I have always had a love for Data - how you can deduce patterns, and form stories or conclusions by digging into number patterns. But how can we use data to make the world a better place, I wondered...

This year’s International Day of the Girl conference reviewed just that and here were my findings:

The Problem: Data is easily gathered, for most but not for developing countries. So, the data revolution has not reached all, equally, and millions of people remain invisible because of a lack of credible and timely data. Girls and woman are among the most invisible because some of the data that’s currently being collected fail to accurately reflect the specific challenges they face- and other data relevant to their lives are not being captured at all. For example, we may know how many girls are in school, but we do not adequately measure how many leave school for various reasons, including marriage, pregnancy, sexual violence, school fees or lack of employment opportunities following school. How can we hope to increase every girl’s access to education if we do not track some of the most important factors that limit their opportunities?? In fact, most official sources collect data only about girls and women aged 15-49, so very little is known about the 2 million children born to girls under age 15 each year in low and middle income countries. Young adolescent mothers are virtually invisible to decision makers. How can we understand their lives and tackle the problem of child pregnancy if official figures ignore their existence?

The How: Transformative change begins with understanding the challenges and root causes of inequality and exclusion, and that understanding begins with listening to girls themselves, particularly the most excluded. Hearing first-hand their needs and priorities is crucial as the world begins to take action to implement the Global Goals. Plan International conducted survey’s in four developing countries age 15-19 to explore the differing perspectives, attitudes and experiences of a diverse group: young mothers, married girls, school dropouts, girls from ethnic minorities and girls at risk of intersecting vulnerabilities.

Article by Rita Brown


FactRita Brown