ICRW recently released 2nd report in the Girls Count series, “Girls Speak: A New Voice in Global Development,” shows that girls’ insights in development increase impact and effectiveness. The United Nations Foundation and the Nike Foundation funded the report.
Girls have a fundamental right to be heard, valued and respected. Moreover, by listening to girls’ voices, policymakers and program managers can help bridge the gaps between girls’ aspirations and their actual experiences. In this report, the authors outline six themes that arise from girls’ aspirations, including the desire to be healthy and educated with viable livelihoods and career opportunities, financial security and independence; and to marry and have children at the appropriate time. Underlying all the themes is one universal: a shared inability to make decisions about their own lives even though they know what they need.
The report recommends five actions to readers:
- Listen to girls and learn about their aspirations, and engage them in decisionmaking processes
- Engage families, teachers and traditional leaders as girl champions
- Provide safe and inclusive community spaces where girls can develop and raise their voices
- Give girls public platforms to amplify their voices
- Change social norms that stifle girls’ voices