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Girls' rights

Prioritising girls and girls' rights helps drive gender equality and a more equal world for all. 

Girls' rights

Prioritising girls and girls' rights helps drive gender equality and a more equal world for all. 

Girls’ rights and gender equality are steadily improving across the world. Steadily. Does that sound fast enough to you? Didn’t think so.  

Today more girls are going to school than ever before. More girls are avoiding child marriage. Less girls are experiencing harmful practices. And less girls are facing unintended pregnancies while still children themselves.

This is progress. And it means girls’ rights are being respected and protected. But not everywhere. Not all girls. And not enough girls.  

In truth, girls’ rights in the UK and around the world remain at risk of attack. But together we can stand with girls and continue to prioritise girls’ rights to create a more equal world for all.  


of all sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16 years old.


girls live in countries where harmful gender norms contribute to violations of their rights.


primary school-aged girls worldwide still do not go to school.

Girls’ rights are human rights. Which means girls should be able to enjoy life to the same degree as anybody else. But being a girl means they probably won’t.  

Harmful gender norms remain strong in societies right across the world. Norms that lead to harassment, stigmitisation and discrimination. Norms which cement inequality and in their worst forms, perpetuate violence.  

Examples include beliefs that girls should do more household chores. Or that they are not worthy of an education. Or that they should be flattered by unwanted sexual attention. 

Often these beliefs are rooted in societies’ structures and laws, too. Some countries still have laws which restrict women inheriting property. Others’ laws seem to forget girls exist altogether, failing to protect them.  

Together these beliefs and structures place limits on what girls can do, the choices they can make and the opportunities they have. In short, they contribute to the violation of girls’ rights. 

Progress on girls’ rights is happening. But it’s slow and uneven.  

In some places, girls still struggle to access health services and information. In others the quality of education is patchy. It doesn't always equip girls with skills for the future. Skills like critical thinking and technology which the world is coming to rely upon. All over the world harassment and violence prevail.  

Some girls also continue to miss out more than others. Intersecting factors like poverty, ethnicity and disability magnify girls’ disadvantage. It’s worse for girls living in emergency settings which rob them of their homes and support systems.  

There is also a real concern that even this steady, patchy progress could be rolled back.  

The Covid-19 pandemic forced girls from schools into child marriage and early pregnancy. Further climate-related disasters and protracted crises push girls into fragile emergency situations. Some countries continue to block efforts to improve girls’ lives. While others move to limit women and girls’ control over their bodies.

The first step to advancing girls' rights is to recognise girls as a unique demographic. This helps to identify what girls face and need across the world. 

Ensuring girls can play an active role in decision making is also key. Girls are not responsible for solving the challenges they face. But their perspective makes their input invaluable.   

Boosting girls' confidence to voice their opinions is also crucial. That's why we help girls learn about their rights and speak out on issues that matter to them.  

And providing more opportunities for girls to learn new skills also helps. It creates the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of tomorrow.  

All this helps equip girls to shape the world around them. And we stand with them. 

We help to remove barriers by ensuring systems and laws reflect girls' unique needs. And we facilitate difficult conversations to tackle harmful gender norms and stereotypes.  

Focusing on girls' rights helps create societies where all individuals can thrive. 

Leah, 18, from Tanzania found the confidence to demand her right to stay in school with support from Plan International.
Leah, 18, from Tanzania found the confidence to demand her right to stay in school with support from Plan International.

Leah’s determination to stay in school 

"I had a dream of becoming a doctor, but that dream faded when my father became ill,” says 18-year old Leah from Tanzania.  

“My family decided that I should drop out of school so I could take care of the family while my brother continued with his studies. I couldn't refuse to drop out of school because I didn't know my rights."

Leah joined a club run by Plan International that helps out-of-school girls return to the classroom. 

“After joining the club and learning about being assertive and gender aware, I am now aware of my rights and can confidently express my opinions," says Leah. 

Girls’ rights are under attack

Stand with girls as they claim their rights across the globe.  

Join Fierce Voices

Girls’ Rights Collective UK 

The Girls’ Rights Collective UK is a space to share best practice, advocate for change and create a better UK for girls and young women. 

It was created after our latest State of Girls’ Rights in the UK report showed that girls across the UK were being denied their rights and often didn’t feel safe at school, in the street or online.   

Girls across the UK are determined to make change happen – and we’re here to support them. 

The Girls’ Rights Collective brings together professionals, volunteers, sector experts and organisations to work more effectively and drive change together.  

Rachel, 15, standing with her arms crossed in a laboratory class room at her school
“There could be a guy beside me, not working nearly as hard, he’s going to get the exact same rewards.” – Rachel, 15, Northern Ireland.

Celebrate girls’ rights

International Day of the Girl takes place 11 October every year.  

It’s a day to come together and celebrate girls’ rights, while still pushing for more, faster progress on gender equality.  

Plan International UK marks the day every year, giving girls and people like you the chance to get involved too.  

Find out about this year’s Day of the Girl.

Find out more

See how girls took over roles for Day of the Girl in 2022.