Media Centre - Media release - 21 May 2021

Plan International Australia stands with today’s student climate strikers: “Educating girls is one of the most powerful solutions to creating a climate-just world.”

Youth activists take part in climate strike action in Melbourne, Australia

Plan International Australia is standing in solidarity with young people in Australia and around the world who are going on strike today to demand action on climate change.

The global Student Climate Strikes, which were originally inspired by the brave actions of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, are an important wake up call to global leaders that young people are demanding action to address the climate emergency.

Climate change must be dealt with independently of party bias and political agenda, as the instability and changeability of the government does not result in constructive progress on climate change policy and environmental protection.

“There is not time left to ‘debate’ an issue such as human induced global warming, when the consequences are clear; an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events attributable to a changing climate,” said Plan International Australia Youth Activist Elizabeth, who hails from regional Victoria.

COVID-19 has devastated all sectors of society across the world, but its impact does not fall equally. Plan International research has proven that when emergencies, humanitarian crises and global pandemics hit, it is girls who face increased risks of being pulled out of school permanently, abuse and violence, child marriage and early pregnancy, food shortages as more.

And it’s girls’ education that has been hit hard by lockdowns and school closures. According to the Malala Fund, approximately 20 million secondary school-aged girls may never return to the classroom after the pandemic if world leaders don’t step up and invest in education that responds to the needs and rights of girls.

The climate emergency makes this all the more urgent and could mean another 12.5 million girls each year not finishing school by 2025 – girls that are our future leaders, scientists or conservationists; the incredible minds required to combat the climate crisis.

“Right now, we have an extraordinary opportunity to create a sustainable planet in a transformative way – and it starts with educating girls,” said Plan International Australia’s Director of Advocacy Hayley Cull.

“All around the world, girls, young people and women are raising their voices and calling for meaningful action to address the climate crisis. We must listen to their voices and make sure they are included in the decision-making process and in designing climate solutions.”

“Educating girls is one of the most powerful solutions to creating a climate-just world. It has the ability to amplify all other solutions to climate change, and yet it continues to be overlooked by our global leaders and decision makers. How can we solve the world’s greatest crisis, but ignore the most powerful solution?

In our global community, the world’s most vulnerable are contributing the least to climate change, and yet they’re bearing the brunt of this crisis.

“Climate change magnifies the inequalities girls and women already disproportionately face, such as lack of access to education, poor access to sexual reproductive health services, increased child, early and forced marriages, early pregnancies, violence, and human trafficking.

“When the world invests in girls’ education, we can tear down the practices and structures that are damaging our planet. We can unlock girls’ creativity, their power, their resilience and their leadership. Educated girls lift us all,” Ms Cull added.

With more than 80 years of experience working with the communities that are now bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, Plan International’s extensive research has proven that quality education gives girls and young women:

  • The ability to build resilient communities to the effects of climate change.
  • The skills, knowledge and support to know what to do in extreme weather events and disasters and help their communities adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Opportunities to pursue careers in politics, conservation, science and economics and become leaders in the climate justice movement and hold governments to account.
  • Skills to lead green technology and pursue green jobs, leading to a greener economy and robust climate policies.
  • Environmentally responsible decision-making skills.


“If girls everywhere could access quality education and exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights, the potential and opportunities this can have for our world are extraordinary. Studies also show that female leaders are incredibly effective in conservation and protection efforts, and are more likely to pursue more sustainable futures for their communities,” said Ms Cull.

Educated girls become the leaders our planet needs.


About Plan International Australia

Put simply, we’re the charity for girls’ equality. We tackle the root causes of poverty, support communities through crises, campaign for gender equality, and help governments do what’s right for children and particularly for girls. We believe a better world is possible. An equal world; a world where all children can live happy and healthy lives, and where girls can take their rightful place as equals.

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Claire Knox

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0452 326 549

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