On a cold day in 2004, in a small village of rural Nepal, Plan’s Germany Director Marianne Raven was sitting under a tree discussing the community’s challenges with its inhabitants. As the huddled group made requests for more blankets to cover themselves from the cold, Marianne saw a small girl ambling past, with barely enough clothes to keep her warm. The girl's mother was asked, “Why doesn’t this girl have adequate clothing against the cold?” The mother’s answer would have a profound impact on Marianne, and indeed all of Plan. She replied, “Because she is a girl".
This campaign is dedicated to Sharmila. With your support, Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign aims to unleash the incredible potential of girls to create a better world. The benefits are not just for them, but for everyone.Donate Now Add your voice
Child marriage robs girls of their childhood, their health, their hopes and dreams, and their education – right at a time when it matters most. When a girl is married young she is more likely to experience violence, physical and sexual abuse, and poor sexual and reproductive health. Child marriage is one of main reasons why 65 million girls around the world are currently missing out on school.Donate
Physical, sexual or psychological violence are very real threats to girls in developing countries. Even in school, girls can face harassment, rape and discrimination from teachers and peers, thereby reducing their chances to succeed. One in every four girls are sexually abused by the age of 18.Donate
Often society places lower priority on educating girls compared to boys. This is because of broader attitudes about the roles of women and men in society and family that have remained prevalent in their communities. Less than half of girls in developing countries complete primary school.Donate
In many countries, higher value is placed on boys while girls are pushed into a lower social status, which often means that they are the last to eat or to even receive health care. Girls are three times more likely to suffer from malnutrition than boys.Donate
Girls are often prevented from going to school as they are expected to help with domestic work and caring for younger children. In fact, girls spend between 33 to 85% more time on unpaid care work than boys. Around 90% of child workers are girls aged 12−17.Donate
Family income is usually the biggest factor when determining if girls go to school. Families with small incomes often have to decide which child to send to school, and boys are almost always chosen over girls.Donate
When girls lack information about sexual health, they are at higher risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Pregnancy is the biggest killer of girls aged 15−19. Every 60 seconds a teenage girl dies from pregnancy or birth complications.Donate
Classroom activities that reinforce gender stereotypes and unsuitable facilities like shared toilets all contribute to discrimination in school, meaning girls are prevented from enjoying the educational rights they deserve. Girls are persecuted more than any other political or religious group.Donate
Samuon’s father is gravely ill, and her mother passed away when she was younger. So the 13-year-old has taken on extra responsibilities to keep the household going. She goes to the market, cooks, cleans and fetches water for drinking. These tasks all cut into time that could be spent on playing or doing her homework.
Purity wanted to be a doctor or an accountant. “That dream is gone now,” she says. When Purity had sex with her boyfriend she didn’t know she would get pregnant – no one had told her. So when she did fall pregnant, she was pressured into getting married, drop out of school and care for her baby. “I really loved school,” she says.
Abit sometimes falls in sleep in class because she has an empty stomach. What’s worse, she has been skipping school to pick up work in exchange for food. “While my friends are learning at school, I’m busy thinking about what to eat the next day.” Abit’s teacher says she is intelligent, and her education is being blighted by hunger.
Sabita was forced to drop out of school when she was in grade two. When she was just 14 years old, Sabita’s family started organising her marriage. It was tradition in her village, and she felt like she didn’t have a say. “I realise my life has been negatively changed after getting married at early age.”
Growing up, Len worked hard labour with her family – up at 5am, and working 12-hour days in a rice field, clearing grass and growing rice. At home, Len experienced abuse from her alcoholic father. He would very often become aggressive and beat both her and her mother. “I think my life can be difficult because I am a female. As a female, you are more vulnerable to abuse and violence.”
Faridah was an enthusiastic student, who worked hard and always excelled in her studies. But getting to school wasn’t always easy. She often felt unsafe and scared. When she was just twelve years old, her grandfather saw a boy harassing her – so he took her home and beat her. “He stopped my education, banning me from going to school.”
The 2015 Because I am a Girl Report:
Girls around the world have made huge progress over the past 15 years – more girls are in school than ever before and access to clean water and sanitation improves every year. But there is still a long way to go before girls enjoy the same access to rights and opportunities as boys. The 2015 State of the World’s Girls report brings together 14 prominent contributors to examine progress made in realising girls’ rights and the reasons why girls still face huge challenges.