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Plan International: 5 Million Girls Share Promise of Lasting Change

LONDON - Millions of girls in developing countries are in a better position to take control of their lives as a result of Plan International’s Because I am a Girl campaign.

The campaign is now being expanded, joining with others in the global movement for girls’ rights to not only improve access to education for all, but to tackle all the obstacles to progress that girls face.

Through more than 500 girl-focused projects, Plan International helped transform the lives of more than 1.9 million girls in 2015 – bringing the total to almost 5 million girls directly reached since the Because I am a Girl campaign launched in 2012.

In that same period, the lives of more than 40 million girls and boys were indirectly improved as a result of Plan International’s work, showing the impact gender programming has on broader communities, schools, and families.

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Plan International CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased with the impact that our work on girls rights is having in communities around the world, but we are only just getting started. We have launched a new ambitious phase of Because I am a Girl, which will see the world’s biggest girls’ campaign expand substantially as part of the global movement for girls’ rights. The Sustainable Development Goals call for transformative changes in communities and societies. For Plan International, this means building the momentum on girls’ rights through policy change, strengthened laws, and transformative programs.”

Plan International continues to focus its program work for girls on education, while also incorporating other growing priorities, such as sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and economic empowerment.

The drive to end child marriage was the most prominent advocacy priority of the organization in the past year, with a number of successes to celebrate, including:

  • The passing of laws in Malawi and Guatemala raising the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18;
  • Groundbreaking research conducted in Asia; and
  • A collaborative campaign against child marriage in Burkina Faso.

Strong partnerships with government, civil society, and the private sector have formed the backbone of Plan International’s work on girls’ rights. Funding for these projects was made possible by coordinated efforts across Plan International’s 21 fundraising offices, which brought in $570M between 2012 and 2015 for girls programming. Ms. Albrectsen added: “Through Because I am a Girl, we have led the call for girls’ rights to be recognized as human rights, and we will continue to broaden this work in line with the scope of the SDGs so that all girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide, and thrive.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:

To find out more about Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign, visit: https://www.planusa.org/empower-a-girl.

Key Statistics:

  • There are 62 million girls of primary and lower secondary school age not in school. 1 in 5 adolescent girls are out of school.
  • Girls with no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 as those with secondary education or higher.
  • Every 2 seconds a girl becomes a child bride, endangering their personal development and well-being. Child brides are often disempowered, dependent on their husbands, and deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education, and safety.
  • Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than girls in their early 20s. Infant deaths are 50 percent higher among babies born to mothers under 20 than among those born to women in their 20s.
  • 99 percent of the estimated 4.5 million forced into sexual exploitation globally are women and girls.
  • 90 percent of countries have at least one law that restricts economic equality for women.
  • 75 percent of women’s employment in developing regions is informal and unprotected.
  • Family poverty has more impact on girls’ survival than boys’. A 1 percent fall in GDP increases infant mortality by 7.5 deaths per 1,000 births for girls as opposed to 1.5 deaths per 1,000 births for boys.
  • In 2008, for the first time, more than half of the world’s population – 3.3 billion people – lived in urban areas. 1/8th of the global population are migrants. More adolescent girls than boys are migrating into cities. Girls may leave homes in search of a better life—to find a job, access healthcare, get an education, or to escape early marriage, violence, and sexual abuse.
  • Adolescent girls face unique challenges in cities with safety featuring among their biggest concerns. Plan International’s urban program found that in Delhi, 96 percent of adolescent girls do not feel safe in the city. In Kampala, 45 percent girls reported sexual harassment when using public transport. In Cairo, 32 percent of girls felt they could never talk to anyone about their safety concerns.

About Plan International USA

Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty. Everything Plan does – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time. For more information, please visit http://www.PlanUSA.org.

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