Kevin Rudd Launches ‘Because I am a Girl’ Report
4 November 2011 at 11:33 am
Girls around the world are fighting a losing battle for gender equality unless boys join the cause, says a major global report from Plan, launched in Australia this week by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd.
The ‘Because I am Girl: The State of the World's Girls‘ report reveals that fathers, brothers and husbands have an essential role to play in creating true gender equality throughout the world.
The report shows that far from being an issue just for women and girls, gender is also about boys and men; without involving men and boys more effectively the battle for gender equality cannot be won.
From escaping individual and family poverty to reducing violence, the report also shows how everyone – girls and boys, men and women – can benefit from turning the aspiration of gender equality into reality.
The 2011 report highlights the critical role that education about gender equality plays, starting from the earliest years and engaging parents and families throughout a child’s life. It presents clear evidence that to bring about change we need to start at the beginning, in the home, in early childhood programs and continuing at school.The education of boys and girls at all ages and stages is key.
At the launch, Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted the need to focus on gender equality and girls’ education through the Australian aid program.
His comments come after the appointment of Australia's first Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, Penny Williams, in September this year.
"The fact is that lifting women and girls out of poverty drives development – it’s not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do," Rudd said.
"Study after study shows development assistance is more effective when women are central to the aid investment.
"It is simply unacceptable that 70 per cent of the 1.5 billion people living below the poverty line are female."
Chief executive of Plan, Ian Wishart, added: "Plan's work with girls and their communities all over the developing world has demonstrated to us that with even just a small amount of assistance or investment, girls can transform not only their own lives, but the welfare of the entire societies they live in.
"In particular, enabling girls to access an education and gain greater opportunities and life choices has been proven as one of the most effective ways to combat poverty and injustice across the world.
"While men still hold the levers of power in almost all societies, we have found that they are also set back by gender stereotypes and inequalities that are taught to them at a young age and perpetuated into their adulthood," Wishart said.
The report also includes the results of a survey of more than 4000 children that reveals many young people around the world still hold strong, traditional views about gender roles. Australia’s report launch follows similar events in Canada, Germany, India, Thailand and the UK.
Report findings at a glance:
- 70 per cent of the 1.5 billion people living below the poverty line are female.
- There are 75 million girls out of primary and lower secondary school.
- A girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish primary school.
- Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. If they are 15-19, they are twice as likely to die.
- An extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s eventual future wage by 15 to 25 per cent. Many girls in developing countries don’t make it to secondary school as they are pulled out to help support their mothers and the household, or are forced into marriage.
- Girls from poorer countries and living in a rural area are 16 more times less likely to be in school than a boy from a comfortable household living in a town.
- Every day an estimated 3500 girls in the world's poorest regions will marry before their 15th birthdays.
- 70,000 adolescent mothers die every year in the developing world because young girls are having children before they are physically ready for parenthood.
- 20-50 per cent of girls have experienced violence from a family member.
- Girls are three times more likely to suffer from malnutrition than boys.
- Globally, young women aged 15 to 24 account for 64 per cent of HIV infections among young people.
View the report at http://www.becauseiamagirl.com.au/2011/