One Crucial Thing Can Help End Violence Against Girls

Eleanor Goldberg at The Huffington Post: “…There are statistics that demonstrate how many girls are in school, for example. But there’s a glaring lack of information on how many of them have dropped out ― and why ― concluded a new study, “Counting the Invisible Girls,” published this month by Plan International.

Why Data On Women And Girls Is Crucial

Without accurate information about the struggles girls face, such as abuse, child marriage, and dropout rates, governments and nonprofit groups can’t develop programs that cater to the specific needs of underserved girls. As a result, struggling girls across the globe, have little chance of escaping the problems that prevent them from pursuing an education and becoming economically independent.

“If data used for policy-making is incomplete, we have a real challenge. Current data is not telling the full story,” Emily Courey Pryor, senior director of Data2X, said at the Social Good Summit in New York City last month. Data2X is a U.N.-led group that works with data collectors and policymakers to identify gender data issues and to help bring about solutions.

Plan International released its report to coincide with a number of major recent events….

How Data Helps Improve The Lives Of Women And Girls 

While data isn’t a panacea, it has proven in a number of instances to help marginalized groups.

Until last year, it was legal in Guatemala for a girl to marry at age 14 ― despite the numerous health risks associated with the practice. Young brides are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and more likely to face fatal complications related to pregnancy and childbirth than those who marry later.

To urge lawmakers to raise the minimum age of marriage, Plan International partnered with advocates and civil society groups to launch its “Because I am a Girl” initiative. It analyzed traditional Mayan laws and gathered evidence about the prevalence of child marriage and its impact on children’s lives. The group presented the information before Guatemala’s Congress and in August of last year, the minimum age for marriage was raised to 18.

A number of groups are heeding the call to continue to amass better data.

In May, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $80 million over the next three years to gather robust and reliable data.

In September, the U.N. women announced “Making Every Woman and Girl Count,”a public-private partnership that’s working to tackle the data issue. The program was unveiled at the U.N. General Assembly, and is working with the Gates Foundation, Data2X and a number of world leaders…(More)”