The fight for girls’ rights is a fight for human rights and one we should all join regardless of age or gender, says child rights organisation Plan International Australia, marking today’s United Nations’ International Day of the Girl.
Plan is marking the day with the release of its eighth annual State of the World’s Girls report, which this year puts the spotlight on the right of girls to take control of their own bodies and lives. Pathways to Power: Creating Sustainable Change for Adolescent Girls says visible and invisible forms of power over girls are perpetuated in households, communities and governments across the world.
“Power struggles throughout history – from the early collective action for the vote for women to civil rights movements, from disability campaigns to union activism – have been long and painful,” says Plan International CEO Ian Wishart.
“The struggle for girls’ rights may not be as high profile, but it is no different and no less important. It is important because girls and women represent half our population and supporting them as they carve out their pathways to power is going to make our world a better place for all of us – men, women, boys and girls.”
“Our report highlights that girls’ lives are limited by the double jeopardy of being young and being female, and we all have a crucial role in changing that,” Wishart says.
“And while these limits are at their most obvious in the developing world, they exist here in Australia in often more subtle ways. Indeed, a survey we conducted recently of 1,000 girls and young women found that fewer than 1 per cent dream of a life in politics.”
“The girls we surveyed found that sexism continues to dominate their lives, and is putting many off stepping into the life of leadership that will change their world and our world,” he says.
In response, Plan last week led a delegation of two dozen girls and young women aged between 14 and 26 to Canberra to meet with some of the country’s most prominent politicians. They presented a declaration to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop with measures they believe will lead to a better and more equitable world for girls and young women.
The measures include ensuring universal and global access to quality education and health care; ending child marriage, child labour and human trafficking; equitable access to employment opportunities and an end to gender-based violence. The delegation was part of Plan’s Because I Am A Girl campaign, which aims to unleash the potential of girls by promoting their rights, transforming their futures and creating a better world for all.
“Girls want to become leaders. It is crucial that each and every one of us look at the way we treat girls and ask ourselves, ‘do we support them, do we encourage them?’ If the answer is not ‘yes’ then we need to change our behaviour so that girls feel welcome in the corridors of power and leadership.”
Today is the United Nation’s International Day of the Girl. The day was established by the UN in 2012 after intense lobbying from Plan.
To download State of the World’s Girls 2014 report, please click here: http://bit.ly/1ri7V5L
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.
Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945