The world too often neglects the human rights of adolescent girls. People take advantage of their lack of power and political voice, their isolation amid restrictive social norms, and their limited access to financial assets and protection under the law. Consider that 14,000,000 girls are married as children each year despite international agreements that condemn the practice. Putting girls at the center of the next generation of global development goals provides a framework for ensuring that girls’ human rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
That’s why the International Women’s Health Coalition joined more than 25 of the world’s leading organizations, using their vast years of experience working with girls and the best evidence available, to develop The Girl Declaration, written by girls, for girls, and for the world.
We asked 508 adolescent girls living in poverty in 14 countries around the world about their hopes and dreams, the challenges they face in their lives and the solutions they think are most important.
The girls identified the following seven guiding principles for their declaration.
- Plan with me, design for me
Use insights directly from girls to sharpen the design, implementation and evaluation of programs and services. Build relationships and social networks with girls so their voices are heard in key institutions.
- Make me visible, make me count
Collect, disaggregate and analyze data in all sectors by age and sex and use it to improve programs, influence policy and track progress. Data helps drive smarter, more strategic and targeted investments. At a minimum, analyze data by sex and five-year age segments (10-14, 15-19) to ensure that no girl is left behind. No data revolution will be complete without this.
- Give me a fair share of the money you spend to fix things because we girls give more back
Allocate dedicated and targeted funding for adolescent girls across program and policy budgets. At a minimum, make budget allocations commensurate with adolescent girls’ needs and potential to drive positive change.
- Think of me now, because now is when I need you most; and now is when it will make the most difference
Intentionally focus on adolescence (ages 10-19) and invest early, before girls undergo the physical, emotional and social changes associated with puberty. Design policies and programs to ensure adolescence is a healthy and safe transition to adulthood, not a period in which girls are left out.
- Don’t forget me because I’m too poor, too distant, too silenced for you to know I am here
In the quest for scale, it’s easy to overlook the most marginalized – including adolescent girls in emergency, conflict and postconflict settings even though reaching them can help end the cycle of conflict. Plan for the most marginalized from the beginning to ensure they aren’t left out at the end.
- Don’t hold me back
Tackle discriminatory social norms that govern adolescent girls’ daily lives and have significant and enduring consequences. Mobilize communities, families, men and boys to support adolescent girls.
- Laws should be fair; make and enforce ones that respect and protect me
Pass laws and ensure accountability to legal policies and frameworks that protect the rights of girls and give them access to justice. At a minimum, governments must meet international obligations and hold those who violate rights of adolescent girls accountable
Download the Girl Declaration booklet to read the full statement by adolescent girls and discover the five goals that will build a better future for the world.