Girls and young women are unable to thrive because they face social, cultural and economic barriers to completing school, accessing training and getting jobs. In general, young women are more likely to be unemployed. In addition, gender equality at work is a long way from being achieved – globally, women’s earnings are on average 24% less than men’s.
Poor access to finance is also a common problem faced by young female entrepreneurs. They face barriers such as discriminatory laws, gender norms and practical obstacles such as unsafe public transport. As a result, in many places young women are unable to set up or develop their own businesses, or become economically empowered.
Gender-based violence is another barrier that faces girls. 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 prevents 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 recognized 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.We are committed to support girls and young women to reach their potential.
Economic empowerment is critical if girls are to thrive. It helps them gain financial independence, establish savings and improve their future prospects. It can also increase girls’ mobility, promote their confidence, strengthen social support networks and improve their health. Economically empowered girls are more likely to provide financially stable futures for their children and contribute to the growth of their countries.
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 alongside girls to achieve this by creating safe and inclusive cities where they are free from violence and fear, by providing opportunities for girls to become economically active and by connecting them with access to justice.
“Girls are more vulnerable in my community. You can’t walk alone or you might get attacked like my sister did,” says Larice, 18, from Sao Luis, north-east Brazil. But she is determined the threat on the streets will not stop her going to school.
I learn a lot and I take part in activities and projects run by Plan International Brazil. I’m even part of the Girls Leadership Project, where I am speaking out about violence against girls and women and fighting for equality. I always feel safe when I get to school.