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Kate Jongbloed

5 New Year’s resolutions for global girls’ rights

Kate Jongbloed

New Year’s resolutions are often about quitting a bad habit, or starting a good one. In the movement for girls’ rights, the same rule applies!

We think that the world needs to make a few New Year’s resolutions that will make a big difference for girls. Some are about creating new habits, and others are about putting a stop to existing harmful practices.

Here at Because I am a Girl we’re ready to do our part to make these New Year’s Resolutions for girls a reality. As we share each of them with you, we’ll also let you know what Plan’s Because I am a Girl initiative is doing to make a difference in these areas.

Without further ado, here is our list of 5 New Year’s resolutions for girls’ rights!

1. Quit underage marriage

Here are the stats: Nearly 20% of girls in the world’s least developed countries are married before age 15. Girls who are forced to marry early are more likely than other girls to drop out of school and get pregnant while they’re still in their teens.

Underage marriage goes hand in hand with early pregnancy. Girls who get pregnant before their bodies are ready are at risk of severe health complications and even death.

Learn about Plan’s initiatives to end underage marriage in Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa that has the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

2. Quit trafficking girls

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. The word “trafficking” means to trade in something illegal – in this case, we’re talking about buying and selling people.

More than 1 million children are trafficked each year. Both boys and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour. However, estimates suggest that girls and women are especially vulnerable to human trafficking.

Read more about how Plan helps girls as young as 13 escape from sex trafficking in India.

3. Quit female genital cutting

Every year, millions of girls experience female genital cutting – a procedure that partially or fully removes a girls’ external genitalia. The procedure is often dangerous, causing severe bleeding, infections and problems urinating. Female genital cutting is a violation of girls’ rights, and reflects deep-rooted inequality between men and women.

In Africa, where the practice is most common, 47% of women ages 15 to 49 have been cut. About 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of female genital cutting.

Learn how Plan is helping to end female genital cutting in Egypt and Sierra Leone.

4. Make sure every girl graduates

Education is not just a fundamental human right – it is the key to unlocking a girl’s full potential. Girls who finish high school are more likely to earn more, have fewer unwanted pregnancies, marry later, and break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their family. Yet, 66 million girls around the globe are missing out on an education.

Find out more about Plan’s focus on girls’ education in the annual State of the World’s Girls report: Learning for life.

5. Register every girl

In the world’s least developed countries, only 1/3 of children under 5 years old are registered with their government! Without these crucial identity papers, girls aren’t officially citizens in their own country.

Rights that are available to official citizens – like travel between countries, voting, getting a drivers license and writing school exams – may be out of reach for girls without a birth certificate. Even though it might seem like just a piece of paper, a birth certificate is key to girls achieving their rights.

Read more about how Plan’s initiatives to register girls at birth can help prevent human trafficking.

Did YOU make any New Year’s Resolutions this year?