WASHINGTON, DC — Nine in 10 girls (88%) say they are feeling high or medium levels of anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a landmark survey — involving more than 7,000 girls in 14 countries — conducted by girls’ rights organization Plan International.
For the girls surveyed, aged 15-19, the most prevalent fears concerned their own health (33%) and the wellbeing of their families (40%). Nearly a third (26%) were worried about the loss of household income due to the pandemic. Halting Lives: The Impact of COVID-19 on Girls and Young Women is the most extensive study of its kind focusing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on girls from 14 countries, including the United States, Spain, India, Ghana and Brazil.
“The survey highlights that health emergencies affect groups differently,” said Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA. “Girls are at a higher risk of domestic violence and mental health issues, as social norms place the majority of unpaid domestic work and emotional labor in their hands. This is causing a real concern that girls will not return to school following the pandemic.”
The research shines a light on the complex challenges girls are facing, ranging from the impact on their education to their ability to leave home.
— 62% of girls surveyed said they were struggling as a result of not being able to go to school or university.
— More than half (58%) of girls are feeling the negative effects of not being able to leave the house regularly.
For 19-year old Deolinda from Mozambique, lockdown, not the virus, has had the greatest impact on her and her family. “We were told that to prevent getting infected from this coronavirus, we must stay at home and not go to school or work. This makes it very difficult for me because I rely on small on-the-spot jobs; this is how I have been providing for my family.”
The report is being launched via a virtual intergenerational dialogue between girls and world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. This dialogue will present an opportunity for girls to outline their key recommendations in response to COVID-19, and for world leaders to listen and respond.
Plan International is calling for global, regional and national authorities to ensure COVID-19 response plans consider the unique challenges faced by girls because of their age and gender. The organization is raising $100 million to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable children and their communities from the impacts of COVID-19.
NOTES TO EDITORS
— Overall, 7,105 surveys were collected across 14 countries: Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Spain, USA, France, Vietnam and Zambia.
— The survey was conducted on behalf of Plan International by Kantar and Ipsos Mori in all countries bar Egypt and Ghana, where Plan International staff collected data face-to-face using tablets.
— Plan International Australia’s report A Better Normal: Girls Call for a Revolutionary Reset, involving more than 1060 girls from 99 countries, has mapped out their visions of a better, more equitable and more peaceful post-pandemic world. It will also be presented to the United Nations General Assembly on September 23.
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About Plan International USA
Powered by supporters, Plan International USA partners with adolescent girls, young women and children around the world to overcome oppression and gender inequality, providing the support and resources that are unique to their needs and the needs of their communities, ensuring they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity and safety. Founded in 1937, Plan is an independent development and humanitarian organization that is active in more than 80 countries.