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.
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.
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.
Christiana escaped a marriage she was forced into when she was 16 and joined Plan International Sierra Leone’s Girl Power Project. “I advocate for my friends because I do not want anyone to experience the same difficulties that I went through,” she says.
I pray to our government that they stop sexual violence in schools, child marriage and teenage pregnancies. We have laws against this. Make sure they are put into practice.