Why equality for girls is crucial to achieving a just world

Every child has the right to be healthy, educated, protected, valued, respected and heard. However, the reality is that millions of children around the world are barred from accessing their rights. And girls are the most likely to suffer from these injustices.

Girls living in the regions of lowest income are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet. They are more likely to live in poverty, be denied access to education and be malnourished. And yet studies show that when you invest in girls, the whole world benefits.

If a girl has enough to eat, a safe environment and an education, she can begin to pursue her full potential and a better future of her own choosing. In communities where girls can equally access their rights and opportunities, societies can work to raise their standard of living and, in time, strengthen the economy of the entire country as well as help end cycles of poverty, gender-based violence and child marriage.


Girls’ education

For every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 11%. However, it’s estimated that over 11.2 million girls and young women stopped attending school or lost access to education in 2021. The inability to access education makes children more vulnerable to disease, violence, exploitation, child marriage and more. Children – especially girls – around the world face many barriers to accessing their right to education.

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Child marriage

Child marriage

Child, early and forced marriage are human-rights violations that rob girls of their right to make decisions about their own lives. Girls who marry before the age of 19 are at an increased risk of HIV infection and death. Additionally, the psychological impacts are lasting, as girls who marry as children are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. Child marriage disrupts their right to an education, and it takes away their right to thrive economically, socially and politically.

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Gender-based violence

Gender-based violence

Abuse knows no borders, and women and girls are affected by it most. Approximately one in three women and girls worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The alarming fact is that in many places around the world, violence against women and girls is condoned or considered normal. 

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Why our  work is critical

We work to improve the lives of girls while advancing their position and value in society. Gender equality underpins our programming, advocacy, communications and partnerships. We tackle the root causes of gender inequality because investing in girls is one of the most effective ways to fight global poverty and create more resilient, just communities. 

130 million

girls are not attending primary or secondary school.*

Every day, girls around the world are denied their right to education because of poverty, malnourishment, gender norms and violence.

*UNESCO, 2019

Every 2 seconds

a girl under 18 is married.*

Did you know that child marriage is a human-rights violation and increases a girl’s risk of domestic abuse, early pregnancy and HIV?

*UNICEF, 2020

4.1 million

girls are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation.*

FGM can lead to menstrual blockage, blood poisoning and death.

*UNFPA, 2021

“As a child, I felt pressured to marry the man whose family had made my parents a decent offer. Part of the pressure came from the fact that child marriage had been largely normalized within my community.”

Samra Zafar, child-bride survivor, author and Plan International Canada Celebrated Ambassador

How you can help

Interested in supporting the cause? Check out these ways you can begin championing girls’ rights and gender equality.

girl with backpack

Sponsor a girl in Africa   

Read children’s real-life experiences

Help children in emergencies GOH FY21 - Eunice, 6, plays game at day centre set up by Plan International in Eastern Equatorial state

Desiree Buitenbos

5 Ways to End Poverty  

Looking for 5 ways to end poverty? The good news is that poverty rates have been on a steady decline and have been cut by more than half since 2000. But there is still lots of work to do as the fact remains that 10% of the world’s population or 734 million people live on less than $1.90 a day.

Our work

Plan International Canada helps support children, especially girls, access their rights to education, health, safety, nutrition and disaster relief. 

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How we work

As an inclusive charity, Plan International Canada uses a gender transformative approach to create sustainable change and advance children’s rights and equality for girls worldwide.

Learn more about how we work

Donate now

You can support the cause to advance girls’ rights and gender equality with a generous donation.

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