No matter what their circumstances, girls worldwide face a wall of resistance in their struggle for gender equality: despite laws, policies and global targets all put in place to advance change, the pace of progress is disturbingly slow.
The research undertaken by Plan International this year in Spain, Uganda and Colombia demonstrates clearly that gender inequality is still very much part of the fabric of our society. The evidence we have gathered is fascinating, and horrifying, uncovering a complex thread of discrimination and violence at all levels. The key to equality is to challenge the widespread perception that girls are worth less than boys: a valuation that starts when they are born and follows them into their adult lives.
This report focuses on the testimony of young people, particularly adolescent girls, and on their right to properly participate in their lives at family, community and national levels. It emphasises that girls are almost always denied the opportunity, at home, at school and in their wider communities, to be heard and heeded. Their voices and experiences do not influence or lead change: they are not decision-makers even in matters, like leaving school and getting married, that have a massive impact on their lives. They are largely invisible in public spaces. In this report we are listening carefully to what they have told us about what must be done about it and how to do it.