11 September, 2014 - Hear Our Voices: Major new study reveals high barriers for adolescent girls

The Hear our Voices report is released in Australia on September 11 with a powerful new video drawing attention to the barriers girls face. Download a broadcast-quality version here: bit.ly/Hearvideo
Photos of the girls featured in the video can be downloaded here: bit.ly/Hearportraits
For a summary of the report: bit.ly/Hearreport.
For an infographic illustrating major findings: bit.ly/Heargraphic
Plan International CEO Ian Wishart is available for grabs, interviews, etc. To arrange, please call Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945.

Adolescent girls across the developing world are constantly limited, constrained and subjected to injustices that stunt their opportunities in life, according to a major new study based on a comprehensive survey of more than 7,000 children and teenagers in 11 countries around the globe.

Plan International spoke to 7,179 children aged from 12 to 16 in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Benin, Cameroon and Liberia – and the findings bring the daily realities faced by girls to vivid life in a report called Hear Our Voices.

“This is one of the biggest and most comprehensive studies of this type ever conducted, and the results were frequently disturbing,” says Plan International CEO Ian Wishart. “What we discover is that girls across the developing world do not see themselves as having rights.”

“Girls are all too often unaware of their right to make their own decisions about their own bodies and lives. Unfortunately, these findings were reinforced by the perspectives of the boys around them,” Wishart says.

“For example, both girls and boys highlighted how many adolescent girls drop out of school due to early pregnancy, child marriage or poverty. These are issues that deeply concern us at Plan and they need to be urgently addressed in order to unlock the potential of girls to improve their own lives and, in turn, the lives of all around them.”

In the countries surveyed, one in three girls said they never decide if they become pregnant, while the same number said they never speak up around boys. Less than half said they always participate in school as much as boys.

Only 42 per cent of girls said they always participate as leaders in school groups as much as boys.

The release of the study comes a month before the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl on October 11, which Plan will be marking by leading a delegation of 25 girls and young women to Federal Parliament in Canberra – where they will meet some of the country’s most prominent politicians, including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

They will be presenting Minister Bishop with a set of recommendations on how best to take action to promote girls’ empowerment and leadership in Australia and around the world

“This statistic that girls do not feel as entitled to take their place as leaders is a telling one. Girls need to feel they can make their way as leaders in order to change the world around them,” says Wishart. “That’s as important in Australia as it is anywhere else in the world, which is why we are facilitating a meeting between two dozen young women and girls from across the country with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.”

Editors’ notes:
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