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With the New Year marking the official start to implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), we must commit to decisive steps to transform the lives of girls, who are so often left behind, says child rights organisation Plan International.
The world’s governments have committed to use the next 15 years to make sweeping development gains to end hunger, achieve gender equality, ensure sustainable use of the planet’s resources and end preventable deaths.
But girls continue to be among the most excluded and discriminated against. Special efforts are needed to ensure they realise their rights within the SDG framework and the world fulfils its promise to ‘leave no one behind.’
“Despite the progress made in recent decades, girls’ rights remains an unfinished business. Never before has there been so promising a moment to push for global change for girls. Nations have 15 years to transform millions of girls’ lives, and the work must start now,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.
Education is a key human right. But at least 1 in 5 adolescent girls around the world is denied her right to an education by the daily realities of poverty, conflict and discrimination. Every day, girls are taken out of school and forced into work or marriage where they risk isolation and abuse.
The Sustainable Development Agenda requires the closing of gender gaps in education, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene. It requires an end to violations of girls’ rights in areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, and to harmful practices including child, early, and forced marriage.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a powerful framework, and together with governments, civil society, and children themselves in the 71 countries in which we operate we will work to make sure SDG promises are realised for children, especially girls,” added Ms Albrectsen.
Through the Because I am a Girl campaign, launched in 2007, Plan International has led the call for girls’ rights to be recognised as human rights. The campaign has focused on the power of quality education to achieve progress for girls.
An educated girl is more likely to marry later and have fewer, healthier children. She has a better chance of staying healthy and remaining alive. Children born to mothers over the age of 18 are much more likely to survive than those born to younger mothers. For each year a girl stays in school, her income will rise by 10-20%.
To match the wider scope and ambition of the SDGs to transform the lives of girls, Plan International will broaden its Because I am Girl campaign to help drive the transformation of power relations so that girls can finally learn, lead, decide and thrive everywhere.
Through research, policy analysis, advocacy, scaled-up programming, and communications, Plan International will boldly tackle some of the biggest challenges for girls such as teen pregnancy; freedom from violence and fear; learning for life; economic and political empowerment; and FGM and child marriage.
Over the next 15 years, based on evidence of what works, the organisation will build the momentum on girls’ rights through far-reaching policy change, strengthened laws and transformative programmes while holding the world to account.
Plan International will work alongside girls and boys, with communities, governments, civil society, international agencies and the private sector, to deliver on the ambition of the sustainable development goals for true gender equality.
“The 2030 agenda has created great hope in many quarters. And as the world starts 2016 we must build the momentum to ensure that promises made to children and youth are delivered,” said Ms Albrectsen.
Davinder Kumar – Global Media Manager
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