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International Day of the Girl 2021

International Day of the Girl 2021

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"Education is wasted on girls." "She’s asking for it." "Girls can’t play football." Every day, girls across the world are being taught lessons they never signed up for. 

These stereotypes condition how girls feel, behave and see themselves and how they are treated by those around them. But this International Day of the Girl, girls are taking over: the boardroom, the stereotypes that hold them back, and their futures.

Imagine a world where girls are no longer restricted by outdated expectations - what they could do, invent and accomplish. Together, on #DayOfTheGirl and every day, we can tear down the barriers of discrimination and prejudice that continue to hold girls back. 

Held back by The Heavy Gown

Help us pull the thread and unravel the stereotypes that limit girls' potential

Our film, The Heavy Gown, is a physical representation of the gender stereotypes that continue to weigh girls down. 

“As a young female, I used to take on a lot of labels and opinions from other people that I felt like I carried" - Kloé Dean, choreographer. 

Go behind the scenes with Kloé and the female-led crew as the dancer unravels these layers and tosses each stereotype aside, until she’s free to move without them holding her back.

Edith, 16, is working towards her dream of becoming a car engineer

"Boys are just better at science"

In Peru, Edith is working towards her dream of being a car engineer. Since watching cars passing by whilst visiting her grandparents as a young girl, Edith has been certain about her path in life.

Brought together by their love of science, Edith and other young women - who are often excluded from the car industry - have joined Plan International’s Changing Schemes programme in Peru.

"We are all looking for a better future, and I like that. We’re breaking down all types of career conventions and all kinds of stereotypes about women. Men and women, together, help each other in class and teach each other.”

Bernadette, 23, coaches a girl's and women's football team in Mali

"Girls can't play football"

Around the world, girls are told that football isn’t for them. In 2019, Bernadette’s talent was spotted during a training session by Plan International’s Kick It project team. Now, Bernadette, 23, coaches the Tigresses – one of eight girls’ and women’s teams in her region in Mali. 

"I was always told that football is a man's sport but I replied by saying that anyone can play it. I would like to call on everyone to encourage those who want to practice it to do so, especially since the popularity of women's football is growing. Please, let your daughters and your sisters play football.”  

Across the UK

girls are still being taught lessons they never signed up for

68%of UK girls feel held back by harmful gender stereotypes

52%have been told they could not do something that boys or men are allowed to do

25%say they have noticed boys being taught or encouraged to study different subjects to girls

Atlanta, 19, is challenging the stigma around periods in the UK

"Your time of the month, is it?"

Across the globe – including here in the UK – periods continue to be surrounded by shame, stigma and taboo. One in five UK girls aged 14-21 have experienced teasing or bullying around their periods. 

Atlanta is one of those girls. “I’ve heard periods called awful, disgusting. One boy even called me “dirty” and refused to sit next to me in class after he overheard me talking about my period privately to a teacher. I was so embarrassed that I went home for the rest of the day.” 

With your support, we successfully campaigned for a period emoji to enable conversations. Together, we can change the narrative around menstruation.   

Shalini, 21, is standing up against child marriage in India

What is International Day of the Girl?

Around the world, girls are discriminated against every day just for being girls – and we’re still a long way from achieving gender equality.  

We’ve been celebrating International Day of the Girl since 2012, when Plan International asked the United Nations to support a day dedicated to girls. Now, International Day of the Girl takes place on 11 October every year.  

Each year organisations around the world, including us, mark the day with events, activities and celebrations, and you can join the conversation on social media using #DayOfTheGirl.  

Why we celebrate international day of the girl

Across the world, girls are still being held back

Girls in conflict settingsare 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys

41,000 girlsunder 18 are married around the world every day

At least 500 million girls don't have access to the resources they need to manage their periods

Our previous campaigns

Find out more about our previous International Day of the Girl campaigns

*The polling was conducted online by Opinium Research amongst a representative sample of 1,000 11 - 18 year old girls in the UK from 15th September to 23rd September 2021.