Today is the International Day of the Girl Child. Originally starting as a project of Plan International back in 2012 which grew out of their Because I Am a Girl campaign, it has now been adopted by the UN, and declared as a national day of observance for the entire international community.
So, why do we need a whole day focused on girls?
No matter where you are born in the world, being born a girl is more likely to put you at a disadvantage than if you were to be born a boy. It’s a big statement to make, but, just last week UNICEF published a report showing that girls between 5 and 14 years old spend 40 per cent more time, or 160 million more hours a day, on unpaid household chores and collecting water and firewood compared to boys their age.
That’s time girls could be using to go to school, learn a new skill, read a great book, or simply hang out with their friends.
In 2016, half a billion women still cannot read, 62 million girls are denied the right to education and 155 countries have laws that differentiate between men and women. This is why we started our Poverty is Sexist campaign, and this is why girls and women need to be at the heart of all discussions about international development if we are ever going to end extreme poverty.
The focus of this years International Day of the girl Child is data, with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announcing that ‘Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement’ would be the title of one of the main events of the day.
With this in mind, we decided to look back to March of 2016, when we collected the most recent and comprehensive data we could find to answer a question we get asked a lot – where is the toughest place to be born a girl?
The index below is not meant to be comprehensive, and the lack of good data in these areas makes the task challenging. But, this set of indicators can be seen as a reasonable guide to a girl’s chances in life, through her health and nutrition, education, economic opportunities and ability to participate in political life. This is what we found:
4. Central African Republic
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
8. Côte d’Ivoire
Being born female and in poverty is a double challenge, and the toughest places on the index seem to bear this out. Clearly, what women and girls in these countries need most is an end to the extreme poverty that holds back not only them, but entire communities too.