Tackling gender-based violence and being truly accountable to girls and young women will be crucial if we are to make continuing and irreversible progress towards gender equality. Girls’ empowerment, and the transformative social change that this requires, is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. Girls’ rights are human rights and it is time this became a reality in the lives of girls everywhere. “Parents and [decision makers]… must change the status quo so that girls are not of lower status and not regarded as the weaker sex. They must recognise that girls are important in nation-building. If that happens, girls will be able to realise that the sky is not the limit, that they can reach the moon and stars above.” Janice, 17, the Philippines
“You have to raise collective awareness… you have to communicate with other people, because a single
person can’t change the world. An idea can, certainly, but you need other hands, other eyes, other
voices to make it a stronger initiative.”
Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, young woman, Mexico
The pathway to power is a long one. But with supportive adults, both women and men, and collective organising, girls and young women are finding a way through. Families, communities and policy makers must acknowledge girls’ low status and the barriers and limitations that they experience and enable them to overcome the constraints that disempower them. Policies and programmes can support girls, their families and their communities to bridge the gaps between their aspirations and their actual experiences.
Manal, 15, from Cairo, Egypt, who had been part of a Plan programme training young people, said: “nobody can take my rights from me now. These programmes are also changing the behaviour of the families – parents are seeing the difference in their daughters. We used to be silent at home and not say what we thought. We will not be silent any more.”