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Report: Gender equality impossible without more help from boys and men

September 22, 2011

Because I am a Girl is Plan's campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls out of poverty. As part of the campaign, Plan is producing one report each year until 2015, the target year for the Millennium Development Goals.

Girls' standing in the world can’t be improved without far more positive participation from the boys and men in their lives, says a new report by Plan. The annual 'Because I Am A Girl' report finds that fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands play an essential role in creating true gender equality. The report also makes recommendations for action, showing what can make a real difference in the lives of girls all over the world.

The report - So, what about boys? - includes primary research with more than 4,000 children, revealing that many stereotypical beliefs about gender roles in society are still entrenched among the world's young people.

Plan International USA CEO Tessie San Martin said: "Unless young men and boys work alongside young women and girls, the cycle of gender inequality and violence will continue to move through generations. This report demonstrates that working together makes an enormous difference in the lives of millions of girls, their families, and their communities around the world." The report's findings include:

  • 65% of participants from India and Rwanda totally or partially agreed with the statement: "A woman should tolerate violence in order to keep her family together." A further 43% agreed with the statement: "There are times when a woman deserves to be beaten."
  • More than 60% of children interviewed in India agreed with the statement: "If resources are scarce, it is better to educate a boy instead of a girl."
  • 67% of boys and 71% of girls in Rwanda and 83% of boys and 87% of girls in India agreed with the statement: "Changing diapers, giving kids a bath and feeding kids are the mother's responsibility."
  • Children are actually happier when they see their parents sharing household responsibilities, rather than sticking to rigid gender roles.

Plan International CEO Nigel Chapman said: "It is widely recognized that empowering girls is a key to unlocking families from poverty and deprivation. But since we began monitoring the state of the world's girls back in 2007, we have rightly been asked: 'So, what about the boys?'

"Of course, many boys are affected by poverty, lack of opportunity and also violence. But girls face double discrimination by being young and by being female. Everyone, including boys, benefits from a more just, equal world, but it cannot be attained by girls alone – we must all play a more active part."

To bring about change, Plan is calling upon governments, leaders and communities to:

  • Transform school curriculum to challenge stereotypes and acknowledge differences;
  • Support girls' and boys' participation in the creation of policies to improve gender equality;
  • Make school safe for girls and boys; and
  • Challenge discrimination and engage men and boys.

Download the report


Because I am a Girl: The State of the World's Girls 2011 
So, what about boys? 

Full Report: 10 mb, 207 pages; Executive Summary: 350 kb, 11 pages 


Learn more about Plan's Because I am a Girl campaign, or connect with us on Facebook.


 Adelaide Loges September 22, 2011 12:12 PM
Working as a nurse in the United States I came across a reverse situation in the 1950\'s. Black females were preferientially educated in some instances as they could be more easily accepted in society. I took care of an adult male who could not read. HIs goal was to learn read and write enough to be able to be a waiter. Growing up his sisters had gotten to school, but as all could not get to school he was the one home kept out of school to help at home. It was boys I came across hustling t
 tracey martin September 22, 2011 12:18 PM
Girls are our future too. And out future depends on equal sharing and caring.
 Ann Marie Pace\' September 22, 2011 12:41 PM
This is a great program. I believe that this program will really help change the world for, not only women, but men as well.
Yes, a more equal & fair world for everyone will solve many of the world\'s problems.

Annie Pace\'
 FRANK WHITMAN September 22, 2011 12:50 PM
 margaret gunther-casey September 22, 2011 1:46 PM
Gender discrimination is world wide, even in developed countries. Women may not be physically abused or used to compensate for an insult to a male or his family, but they are often passed over for a higher position, opinions ignored by men or those in authority, devalued because of age and loss of beauty, and automatically thought to be less capable than a man. In the caves, when strength and physicall prowess were needed to keep a society protected, the male was dominant the female kept clan
 Deborah Chelette-Wilson September 22, 2011 1:59 PM
I believe we have come to a point in history where beliefs of any type of discrimination are no longer sustainable. We need to work together hand in hand in partnership and love rather than isolation and fear. Listening to the girls and boys in the video gave me waves of hope that our future does not have to continue as the past. I also am aware this is a huge undertaking to transform human consciousness. I know it can be done one person at a time. I do believe that once people truly underst
 Courtney September 22, 2011 3:58 PM
Thank you for this and for all the work you do!!! :)
 Arline Mathews September 23, 2011 3:30 AM
We are not on this planet alone. Boys need to be educated that girls are more than decoration and are deserving of being treated equally. They must all be turned into allies. The change in laws that are required need male support.
 ssentongo henry September 23, 2011 5:18 AM
the truth is i ve liked what u do becoz it helps us to improve people ways of living thanks and keep it up
 erica lann-clark September 23, 2011 2:07 PM
Please send me the report. I would like to read it. You can get my address from my website.
 Plan September 29, 2011 1:46 PM
@erica, you can download the report from this page or for a hard copy please call Donor Relations at 1-800-556-7918.