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Three ways to put girls’ rights at the heart of Local Government

Three ways to put girls’ rights at the heart of Local Government

The slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day is press for progress – a clear indication that we still have so much more to do in the field of gender inclusivity across the globe.

As things stand, the UK is currently failing to meet its obligations to girls under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Creating change for girls at a local level

For the UK to meet its national UN goals, change must happen at a local level.

That’s why Plan International UK is calling for the appointment of Girls’ Rights Champions in Local Authorities, to promote girls’ rights and ensure girls are listened to and their needs are taken into account.

We know this conversation must be led by girls. They are the experts in their own lives, and so must have the chance to work with politicians, parents, schools and policy makers to bring about the changes they wish to see in the local area they live in.

Islington Council has taken that step by announcing the creation of a Women and Girls’ Rights Champion role – the first Local Authority in the UK to do so.

Now we want Local Authorities across the UK to join us and put girls’ rights at the heart of their work.

A girl at school in the UK
Our 2016 report showed that, despite living in the fifth richest country in the world, girls in the UK are still being denied their rights.

The Girls’ Rights Champion was a recommendation from our 2016 report, The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK, where we put the spotlight on girls’ rights here at home – showing that being young and female in the United Kingdom comes with specific challenges.

Our report showed that, despite being one of the most developed countries on earth, too many girls in the UK don’t enjoy their rights, and a girl’s quality of life is tied to where she lives.

We ranked Local Authorities by child poverty, GCSE results, not being in employment, education or training, life expectancy and teenage conceptions, showing the best and worst places to be a girl in England and Wales.

Ensuring Local Authorities deliver services for girls

We know that Girls’ Rights Champions are needed, so they can scrutinise budgets and data at a local level and make sure Local Authorities are delivering the services girls need. 

So we’re calling for Girls’ Rights Champions to:

  1. Support the implementation of a local Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, if there isn’t one in place. Where there is a strategy in place, Girls’ Rights Champions must support cross departmental working and ask: does our strategy listen to girls?
  2. Encourage the implementation of better data collection on issues impacting girls at Local Authority level. 
  3. Create a Girls’ Committee where, alongside policy makers and local organisations, girls can tell their Local Authority and Girls’ Rights Champion what works for them in their local area.

Councils across the UK, the voluntary sector and others are working extremely hard for girls with limited budgets. But we know that girls must lead this conversation.

It is only by engaging with this issue at a local level that we will make a difference for girls’ rights.

Will you join us in putting girls’ rights at the heart of your work? Download our concept note to find out how to appoint your first Girls’ Rights Champion.

Follow Peymana on Twitter @Peymasad

The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK

Our report on the everyday barriers facing girls growing up in the UK