Little progress has been made worldwide in improving the living conditions of girls and young women, Plan International concludes in a study. The development organization warns that the UN goals for gender equality will be out of sight by 2030.
Girls and young women still face a lot of physical and sexual violence and unequal pay for work, for example, the organization says.
The organization blames the breakdown in progress on global conflicts, climate change and conservative politics, among other things. “It is really going far too slowly, and the progress that is being achieved is very fragile,” says Garance Reus, director of Plan International in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
Afghanistan is “one of the most extreme examples,” Reus says. Since the Taliban took power in that country, girls and women have been deprived of more and more rights.
In the earthquake zone in Morocco, concerns have recently been expressed about girls and young women who are at risk of becoming victims of kidnapping and abuse. According to Moroccan media, many messages circulated on social media calling on men to travel to the area to protect girls by marrying them.
Plan International also points to the UN ambition for more gender equality laws, such as laws aimed at tackling the gender pay gap, sexual violence or a minimum age for marriage. “But in Nicaragua, Poland and the United States, among others, victories in the field of reproductive rights have been offset by anti-abortion legislation,” says Reus.
‘The Netherlands also has a long way to go’
There is also still a lot of work to be done in the Netherlands, the organization says. “We always think things are going well, but here too we still have a very long way to go.” The Netherlands does score well in the areas of education and politics, says Reus. Girls do better at school than boys and there is an increase in the number of female MPs and ministers.
But on the other hand, the organization calls out the harassment of female politicians. “And women in politics are often commented on about their clothing and appearance. This means that girls do not want to enter politics,” says Reus.
The director thinks that the UN objectives can still be achieved, but “a lot is still needed”. “Consider investments in education and sexual equality, and above all, continue to listen to the experiences of women and girls.”
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