Because I am a Girl: The State of the World's Girls 2008

Plan International
Publication Date: 
January, 2009

This 185-page report is published by Plan International for the purpose of bringing global attention to the fact that progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is being hampered by a continued lack of investment in girls and young women. The report begins with the premise that the condition and position of girls' lives matters, and that the impact of conflict on girls is far-reaching and goes beyond their experiences as either combatants or victims of violence. It intends to show how conflict affects girls differently from boys and how their rights are ignored, their responsibilities changed, and their lives altered by war. It describes how discrimination against girls is in place before the fighting begins and remains after it is over. The report also examines the implications of conflict for girls' health, girls' education, gender roles, and relationship dynamics.

From the Executive Summary:

"‘Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2008’ is the second in a series of eight reports published by Plan examining the rights of girls throughout their childhood, adolescence and as young women....The 2008 report, subtitled ‘In the Shadow of War’, examines the state of girls in conflict situations around the world and looks at what happens to them before, during and after war is over. It makes recommendations for change at international, national and local levels....The report is organised in two sections – the first is a comprehensive overview of data and an analysis of why and how girls experience conflict in particular ways due to their age and sex....The second section monitors global statistics to see how girls are faring."

The report uses five ‘lenses’ to examine the impact of conflict on girls:

1. Participation and empowerment
2. Security and protection
3. Access to basic services
4. Economic security
5. Gender roles and relations

It gives an eight point action plan for girls living in the shadow of war:

* Strengthen the skills and capacities of girls’ and youth organisations before, during and after conflict and ensure that girls have a say in all decisions that affect them.
* Ensure that girls have a voice in peace processes and in truth and reconciliation commissions, where appropriate.
* Reform legislation so that laws in place protect girls and promote their rights.
* Ensure enforcement by re-establishing the rule of law, train police and invest in a functional and appropriate legal system that protects girls’ rights.
* Promote girls’ education in conflict, post conflict and fragile states and release funds to ensure a quality education for every child.
* Prioritise the particular health needs of adolescent girls and young women.
* Enforce the code of conduct for UN personnel serving in conflict and post conflict zones so that they protect, and do not exploit, girls and young women.
* Ensure that youth employment programmes, particularly in post-conflict states, focus on young women, especially young mothers, as well as young men, and ensure that girls have access to appropriate skills training and the means to earn a living."

This report contains policy and programme strategies for the action campaign "Because I am a Girl", including seeking to improve the enforcement procedures of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) or Children’s Convention. It addresses humanitarian legal protections of girls through the Children’s Convention and international law and gives updates and indicators of national legislation related to girls and women by country.