Hands up for girls’ rights: Improving the lives of 400 million girls
“Gender inequality is unfair and unjust,” as Plan’s global Because I am a Girl campaign director, Deepali Sood points out. Discrimination against women and girls is one of the main underlying causes of child poverty.
Although girls and boys have the same entitlements to human rights, girls face different challenges in accessing them. Girls are less likely to be enrolled in school, have less access to medical care, and are more likely to be deprived of food.
Yet we know that investing in girls and young women has a substantially beneficial effect on alleviating poverty; not only for the girls themselves, but for their families, their communities and their country.
Through our global campaign, Because I am a Girl, Plan aims to improve the lives of 400 million girls worldwide. How? By changing legislation, policies, practices and attitudes of duty-bearers at all levels: global, regional, national and local.
The campaign will be launched on 11 October 2012, to coincide with the first ever UN International Day of the Girl Child – something Plan lobbied hard for last year. Last week, Plan staff from national offices around the world gathered in Brussels to discuss launch activities, with CEO Nigel Chapman highlighting the importance of joined up action as a global organisation.
It was inspiring to feel part of a worldwide movement.
Plan EU Office will launch the campaign in the European Parliament, during the Week of Action for Girls – a follow up to the inaugural week last year. The European Week of Action will bring together the EU institutions with UN agencies and civil society to put the spotlight on the particular challenges girls face, and the solutions EU policymakers must focus on to help overcome these.
Quality education is key
The campaign aims to increase the proportion of girls that complete lower-secondary school, and receive a quality learning experience, in the world’s poorest countries. As Deepali says, “The best was to overcome barriers such as forced marriage or early pregnancy is to empower girls. And you do this by educating them and providing them with the skills they need to make decisions about their own lives and bodies.”
Quality education is something we have brought to the attention of EU policymakers in recent months, with the visit of Carol Bellamy, chair of the Global Partnership for Education, to Brussels. Research shows that as many as 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low income countries left school simply with basic reading skills – equivalent to a 12% cut in global poverty. For a girl, each additional year of primary education increases her potential income by 15%.
It’s hard to argue with statistics like these, and our calls have received strong support from influential MEPs including Michèle Striffler and Mikael Gustafsson. The decisions the EU makes affect the lives of children worldwide. Through Because I am a Girl, we will continue to put girls’ rights on the agenda of EU policymakers.
For more information please contact Sabine Terlecki at firstname.lastname@example.org