Girls’ rights and gender equality
Challenging social norms and attitudes to achieve trans-formative change for girls and their communities.
Globally, one in five girls are denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, violence and discrimination. Every day, girls are taken out of school, married far too young, and subjected to violence. This is a violation of their rights, and a huge waste of potential with serious global consequences.
Yet we know that investing in girls has the potential to transform the lives of entire communities and countries. We continue to advocate for greater attention to be paid to the specific rights and needs of girls, in both development and humanitarian interventions.
Girls’ rights and gender equality is a cross-cutting theme within our work on children’s rights, youth economic empowerment, child protection, humanitarian aid and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
We have a vision that all girls and young women will be able to participate in decision-making processes that affect them by 2030.
All girls and young women have the right to meaningfully participate in the key decisions that affect them.
All too often, girls are denied a say, left unrepresented and left behind. Barriers that prevent girls from effectively participating need to be removed to ensure their voices are heard.
CHALLENGING GENDER STEREOTYPES
Gender stereotypes affect the way girls are allowed to participate in decision-making. Poor families are more likely to send their sons to school than their daughters. Girls are often expected to carry out domestic or unskilled work instead. This means they are unable to gain the education, skills or confidence they require to fully participate in society.
Regulations can restrict the ability of women to participate in economic decisions. This also leads to families favouring boys because they believe the poor employment prospects and earning potential of girls does not warrant sending them to school.
Girls and women face discrimination in accessing financial resources, owning property, receiving inheritance and accessing justice. These problems create further barriers that affect their decision-making power.
The widespread lack of birth registration is also an obstacle. Birth certificates are a form of legal identity ― something 230 million children under 5 currently do not have. Having a birth certificate is essential if girls and young women are to participate fully in society.
All too often, girls are denied a say, left unrepresented and left behind
Young women and girls are also denied equal representation in positions of power. Globally, only 1 in 5 members of parliament is female. In some countries there are no female members of parliament at all.
GIVING GIRLS A VOICE
Supporting young female leaders is critical to achieving gender equality.
By giving girls a voice, many of the challenges they face can be overcome. This will help accelerate change and ensure their needs are addressed effectively.
Participation can also improve the quality of services, policies, governance and access to justice. Supporting young female leaders to play a strong political, economic and social role is critical to achieving gender justice.
We have a vision that all girls and young women will be able to participate in decision-making processes that affect them by 2030. This vision mirrors that of the global goals implemented in 2015. We are committed to achieving this by supporting young female leaders and working to promote the voices of young women and girls. We are also developing a report alongside partners that will track the progress of the girl-related global goals. It will ensure global leaders are being held to their promise of achieving gender equality.
We also work with boys and men to overcome discrimination and gender inequality. We empower boys and men to be actively involved and committed to redistributing power in decision-making processes. This means the voices and needs of women and girls receive the attention and respect they deserve.
We have a vision that all girls will have access to a quality education and opportunities for lifelong learning by 2030.
All girls have the right to a quality, safe, formal education, access to lifelong learning and the opportunity to develop the skills they need to get good jobs.
There are currently 100 million girls in low and lower-middle income countries who cannot read a single sentence. Yet, evidence shows that for every year of education a girl completes, her future income increases by more than 10%.
In addition, there are 600 million young people between 15-24 worldwide – mostly girls and young women – who are not employed, or receiving education or training. As a result, they are at risk of entering unstable, low-paid jobs or having no work at all.
For every year of education a girl completes, her future income increases by more than 10%
Progress is being made in getting girls to attend and complete primary school. However, by the end of 2015, there were fewer girls than boys at secondary school in more than half of all countries.
One in 5 adolescent girls across the world is out of school. The constraints of poverty, location, gender stereotypes, social norms and customs can all be barriers preventing girls from getting an education and learning skills.
Even when adolescent girls stay in school, their education often fails to equip them with the knowledge they need. Life skills and sexuality education are often missing from the curriculum. However, these areas are critical in providing girls with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their lives and to find good jobs as they become adults.
POWER OF EDUCATION
Education is transformation for girls. It is the key to unlocking their potential. Educated girls are more likely to marry later and have fewer, healthier children. As a result, they have a better chance of staying healthy and remaining alive. When an educated girl grows up, she is more likely to learn new skills, get better jobs and invest her income in sending her children to school. An educated girl will be a force for change in her society, raising the status of girls and women.
We have a vision that all girls will have access to a quality education, lifelong learning and equal economic opportunities by 2030. This matches the ambitious targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. We are committed to achieving this by working to ensure free and equal access to quality, safe education, including in emergencies.
We advocate at global and national level to ensure that discrimination doesn’t stand between girls and their right to an education. We are also working alongside partners to develop a report which will track the implementation of the global goals and hold governments to account on the promises they have made.
We have a vision that all girls will have the right to decide their futures by 2030.
All girls have the right to make important decisions about their sexual health and well-being. This includes deciding when and who to marry or have children. These decisions should be supported by comprehensive sexuality education and access to non-judgmental and confidential healthcare services.
GIRLS LEFT VULNERABLE
Gender inequality and discrimination result in girls and young women being denied their right to sexual and reproductive health services. This can leave them unable to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Widespread social acceptance of violence against women means that many girls are subject to sexual violence. Stereotypes mean girls lack protection against attacks.
Girls are also more likely than boys to be living with HIV. They are more vulnerable due to biological factors, older sexual partners and a lack of access to information and services.
Each year around 3 million girls are subjected to female genital mutilation. These procedures are often traumatic, painful and can cause health complications or even death. It is usually performed without permission and denies girls the right to make decisions about their sexual health.
Gender equality cannot be achieved until girls have the right to decide their futures
Child marriage also occurs because girls are denied the right to decide. Child brides are more likely to experience forced sexual relations and fall pregnant. Girls who give birth before they are physically ready are at substantial risk of severe health problems or death. The situation is exacerbated in emergencies as girls are often separated from their families and lack the protection of their communities.
Inadequate menstrual hygiene facilities also mean girls are unable to decide. At least 500 million girls and women lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management while 1 in 3 schools globally lack access to adequate sanitation. As a result, girls often choose to stay at home when they are menstruating and miss out on an education which helps to inform key decisions.
RIGHT TO DECIDE
Gender equality cannot be achieved until girls have the right to decide their futures.
Gender equality cannot be achieved until girls have the right to decide their futures. When this is the case, it is less likely that girls will experience discrimination, become pregnant or marry early. They will stay in school, secure a more lucrative job, be healthier and participate in their communities and nations.
We have a vision that all girls will have the right to decide their futures by 2030. This mirrors the targets set out in the sustainable development agenda adopted by world leaders in 2015. We are committed to ensuring this by connecting girls with comprehensive sexuality education and healthcare services as well as protecting them from harmful practices. We will also hold governments to their promises by developing a report that tracks the implementation of the global goals relating to girls.
We have a vision that all girls will be able to thrive by 2030.
If girls are to reach their potential they must be able to live free from violence, discrimination and be equally valued. At present, no country has achieved gender equality – that must change. We are committed to support girls and young women to reach their potential.
DISCRIMINATION HOLDS GIRLS BACK
Girls and young women are unable to thrive because they face social, cultural and economic barriers.
Every year, more than 200 million children under 5 in low and middle-income countries fail to fully develop their ability to think, understand and engage with others. Girls are particularly vulnerable as families often prefer to educate their sons. When they are unable to reach their potential from a young age, girls’ expectations will be lower throughout their lives.
Gender-based violence also holds girls back. It is estimated that 120 million girls globally have experienced sexual violence. It undermines girls’ self-esteem, their ability to complete school and their freedom of movement. It also places them at an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
At present, no country has achieved gender equality
Problems with accessing justice also prevent girls’ development. In many countries they face discriminatory laws. For instance, in some countries rapists escape punishment if they marry their victims. Rape within marriage is legally recognised as a crime in only 52 countries. Other barriers such as the need for parental consent fear of stigma, and discriminatory services result in a lack of justice for girls.
POWER FOR GIRLS
We have a vision that all girls will be able to thrive by 2030. This is reflected in the sustainable development goals adopted by world leaders in 2015. We are working with partners to develop a report that will track the implementation of the global girls relating to girls which will hold governments to the promises they have made.
We are also committed to support girls and young women to reach their potential in societies where they are truly valued. We are working to achieve this by promoting early childhood development, creating safe and inclusive cities where girls are free from violence and fear, and by connecting them with access to justice.
Every child has the right to a safe, formal, quality education and access to lifelong learning. However, due to a combination of factors, many girls are forced to leave school while others never have the opportunity to go in the first place.
Education transforms girls lives
Our award-winning, stop-motion film ‘I’ll take it from here’ shows how education has the power to transform girls’ lives.
Girls’ Education – The Facts
One hundred and thirty million girls are not in education. Fifteen million are expected to never enrol at all.
Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to be completely excluded from primary education, and at the end of 2015 less than half of all countries had achieved gender parity in education at secondary level.
LEARNING TO LEAD
School is a space in which girls exercise their agency, make their voice heard, and access their first leadership opportunities.
If girls are denied their right to education, they are also denied the chance to develop skills that will help them take charge in their homes, careers, communities and countries.
We aim to provide millions of girls across the word with safe, quality, gender-transformative education so they may find their voices and learn to lead.
Skills to succeed
We are directly supporting millions of girls to get the education they need to transform their lives and secure their futures. This means working to ensure free and equal access to quality, safe education for all girls, including in areas affected by emergencies.
We focus our efforts on equality, inclusion and diversity. Our programmes don’t just work in classrooms with teachers, but also include communities, governments, religious leaders, family members and children.
We work with schools and teachers to help make our programmes gender-transformative – so that girls understand they have the right to fully realise their potential and are equally deserving of the skills required to succeed.