Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2010

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•New global report reveals the impact of two of the most dynamic global trends of the 21st century, cities and cyberspace. It is here that girls face the greatest opportunities but also the greatest threats. •New petition calls upon the United Nations to declare September 22 as the International Day of the Girl.

Because I am a girl

“Plan recognises that discrimination against girls and young women is one of the main underlying causes of poverty,”

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Leading Australian bloggers and celebrity personalities have formed a coalition to support the Because I am a Girl campaign and highlight the serious issues faced by girls all over the world.

These issues are detailed in the latest report from international development agency, Plan International, which has found that two of the global trends that are the most dynamic, fast-moving and exciting of the 21st century - cities and cyberspace - pose the greatest opportunities but also the greatest threats for the world’s girls.

The fourth installment of Plan’s annual ‘Because I am a Girl’ series, it argues that girls are the citizens who will be running our cities and shaping technology in the coming decades. It is these girls that need the skills and knowledge to build a better and safer world for everyone.

The Coalition for Investment in Girls needs your help to generate support for girls all over the world - sign the petition to lobby the United Nations to recognize that investment is girls is critically important by declaring September 22 as International Day of the Girl.

Download our ad with some of our coalition members to your site

Go to http://www.becauseiamagirl.com.au and take action to get the United Nations to declare a International girls day every year on September 22nd

Join our Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/becauseiamagirl.au?ref=ts
Follow us on Twitter: @invest_in_girls

Help us get the word out.

For more information please contact

Fi Bendall Bendalls Group / Digital Intelligence @fibendall fiona@bendalls.com.au 02 9948 0007 / 0431 032 426

Copy of the full press release follows:

Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2010

  • New global report reveals the impact of two of the most dynamic global trends of the 21st century, cities and cyberspace. It is here that girls face the greatest opportunities but also the greatest threats.
  • New petition calls upon the United Nations to declare September 22 as the International Day of the Girl.

A new report has found that two of the global trends that are the most dynamic, fast-moving and exciting of the 21st century - cities and cyberspace - pose the greatest opportunities but also the greatest threats for the world’s girls.

‘Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2010’ was today launched globally by leading international development agency, Plan. Titled ‘Digital and Urban Frontiers: Girls in a Changing Landscape’, the report presents new research and analysis of the threats and opportunities that girls face in the world’s growing cities and through information and communications technologies.

The fourth installment of Plan’s annual ‘Because I am a Girl’ series, it argues that girls are the citizens who will be running our cities and shaping technology in the coming decades. It is these girls that need the skills and knowledge to build a better and safer world for everyone.

Despite all the threats that girls face in digital and urban spaces, the report finds that the best way to support their wellbeing and development – and to continue the fight against poverty – is to equip them with the skills to effectively and safely navigate the threats so they can make the most of the opportunities that are available to them.

This also requires that those in positions of power and authority do their utmost to remove the barriers that prevent girls making the most of these opportunities.

As in previous reports, this year’s research demonstrates that removing the barriers to the opportunities for girls in cyberspace and urban areas will unlock their potential and play a key role in ending poverty and creating global prosperity.

Initial report findings reveal some of the immediate risks of cities and cyberspace on girls around the world. These include:

  • For the first time in history, there are more people living in cities than in rural areas and by 2030 an estimated

1.5 billion girls will live in urban areas.

  • City life poses risks for girls such as poverty, overcrowding, poor sanitation, unlit streets, lack of housing, sexual harassment and violence.
  • The report reveals that twice as many young women in cities experience physical or sexual violence compared to young rural women.
  • Global information systems and mobile phones are connecting girls to a new world of information. However, they are also providing girls with little power or ability to protect themselves from harm.
  • The report reveals how technology is increasing sexual exploitation and reports that more than two-thirds of girls do not feel safe online.

The report’s findings are emphasised by the latest information from Plan’s nine-year cohort study that is tracking the lives of 142 girls from nine countries from birth until their ninth birthday in 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals should have been reached.

Ian Wishart, Chief Executive of Plan in Australia, says that without fundamental investment in girls and young women and a genuine desire to encourage their participation in cities and cyberspace, they will both be at a disadvantage in the economy and at personal risk.

“Plan recognises that discrimination against girls and young women is one of the main underlying causes of poverty,” said Mr Wishart. “Girls and boys have the same entitlements to human rights, but they face different challenges in accessing them. This lack of opportunity and care is unfair, as investing in girls has a powerful effect on a family and community’s experience of poverty.”

“As the father of two girls, I know full well the parental instinct to try to hide them away from the dangers of the world, and too often this instinct is highly magnified in the developing world, leading to such outcomes as early marriage, denial of freedom of movement and girls missing out on education.

“But locking girls away to ‘protect’ them from the threats also denies them access to the opportunities that can expand their world, supercharge their development and help lift them, their families, their communities and, indeed, whole countries out of poverty.

“Plan’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ reports argue that investing in girls is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do, and that is most certainly the case when it comes to girls in urban areas and cyberspace,” he said.

The 2010 Because I am a Girl campaign is asking Australians to sign a petition that calls upon the United Nations to declare September 22 as the International Day of the Girl. The day would formally acknowledge the importance and value of girls and increase the pressure on all countries to do what is needed to improve their lives.
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Australians can take action by visiting a dedicated website to sign a petition – http://www.becauseiamagirl.com.au - and help to bring worldwide attention to the need for greater investment in girls to help end generational poverty cycles.

Dangers of cities and cyberspace that are little researched or regulated that are detailed in the report include:

  • Girls living in inner-city slums are at risk from the most mundane tasks, for example, having to choose between defecating in a plastic bag or risking rape should they dare to venture outside to a public toilet at night.
  • Girls end up on the city streets because of physical violence and poor living conditions at home but this only continues when they leave home, with staggering levels of violence, sex work and assault experienced by street girls.
  • ICT is exposing adolescent girls to images of violence, exploitation and degradation at a time in their lives when they are developing sexually. Girls have become prime targets for modern methods of abuse such as trafficking via the internet and mobile phones. One in five women report having been sexually abused before the age of 15.

The reports also warn that six of the eight Millennium Development Goals – the goals set by the world’s governments in 2000 to halve world poverty by 2015 – are unlikely to be achieved unless there is a greater international commitment to fight against gender discrimination.

For more information on Because I am a Girl and Plan visit http://www.becauseiamagirl.com.au or call 13 75 26.

Notes to Editors
1. Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2010 is the fourth in a series of nine annual global reports on girls’ rights and the experiences of girls growing up in the world’s poorest communities.
2. The report was produced with guidance from human rights experts at Unicef and UNIFEM; the Safe Cities Unit at UN-Habitat, Leeds University and input from the Nike Foundation.
3. In 2007, international children’s community development agency Plan International set up a cohort study – Real Choices, Real Lives – to follow the lives of 142 girls in nine countries – Brazil, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Benin, Togo, Uganda, Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam.

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