Ahead of International Day of the Girl, report finds mental health and safe spaces are top priorities for youth in their fight for gender equality
Submitted by Plan International USA
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 2023 /CSRwire/ - In recognition of International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, Plan International USA is releasing a new report on the impact of activism on girls and young women, and launching a series of activities highlighting the importance of passing girls the microphone.
One in five (17%) girls and young women activists have feared for their safety while carrying out their work, according to a new report titled “Turning the world around: Girl and young women activists leading the fight for equality.”
The report, which features girls and young women from 26 countries, also highlights that 25% say they have felt emotionally unwell or anxious while in engaging in activism and that 27% cite negative views from their family or friends as a barrier to their work.
Blessing, 17, is a campaigner from Sierra Leone who helped pass a law to increase female representation in Parliament last year. “Girls have so much potential, but they're not given the platform to exhibit this potential,” she says. “I'm ready to let them see what we have as females. To let society know what we can contribute and to show each and every person out there in the world that there must be no discrimination or less regard for females.”
Despite these challenges, nearly all young female activists (95%) say campaigning for what they believe in has had a positive impact on their lives, making them feel proud, empowered and capable. A clear call to action is to create safe spaces and remove the barriers that prevent girls from speaking out and sharing their views at all levels of society.
A key way Plan is clearing barriers with girls is through Girl Takeovers, where youth leaders step into leadership positions at businesses, governments and organizations around the world. As girls get a seat at the table, they provide a youth voice and perspective, and get a hands-on leadership experience.
“This year, I joined hundreds of leaders globally in elevating girls to a position of power by stepping out of my role as CEO for a day,” Shanna Marzilli, president and chief executive officer at Plan International USA, said. “As a girls’ rights organization, the opportunity for Plan to receive valuable input and insights directly from girls is of immeasurable importance. I want all girls to have the opportunity to be heard and respected.”
National Grid joined Plan in a Girl Takeover by inviting 16-year-old Leela to take over Rudy Wynter’s role as president of National Grid - New York. In her role for the day, Leela experienced firsthand National Grid’s commitment to achieving net zero and to deliver a fair, affordable and clean energy future for its customers and communities. Leela’s Takeover encompassed everything from approving work on the ground at an on-site operations facility to taking the stage at a team summit focused on clean energy achievements and goals.
“It was an honor to partner with Plan International USA and learn from Leela during her Takeover of National Grid’s New York operations for a day,” Wynter said. “As part of our work to achieve a smarter, stronger, cleaner energy future for all, National Grid is committed to helping drive gender equality in the energy industry and empowering talented young people like Leela to become the energy leaders of tomorrow — advancing opportunities for girls and women to pursue STEM careers and assume senior leadership positions across our business.”
Among other engagements, Plan will be supporting a Girl Takeover with a major U.S. political figure and is partnering with UNICEF to co-host an event titled “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being.” The event is open to the public and will be a celebration of the importance of girls’ voices.
Everyone has a role to play in elevating the voices and role of girls in society. To join Plan in celebrating girls on International Day of the Girl, and year-round, learn more about actions you can take, ranging from taking a quiz to attending events, at planusa.org.
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About Plan International USA
Powered by supporters, Plan International USA partners with girls and their communities around the world to overcome oppression and gender inequality. We provide 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.
For more information, and to learn about our commitment to safeguarding, please visit www.PlanUSA.org.
Plan International USA is a girls’ rights organization. Powered by supporters, we partners with adolescent girls, young women and children around the world to overcome oppression and gender inequality. We provide 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 75 countries.
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