Plan International Australia, in collaboration with Vox Populi Research, developed a questionnaire for girls and young women aged between 12 and 25 to gauge their attitudes on girls’ empowerment, leadership, role models, girl activists leading change and girls tackling major social and global issues.
The research was conducted from July to August 2019. It was distributed online via a convenience sample, through networks of Plan International and Vox Populi Research to the target audience. Around 2% identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and 23% identified as being from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background.
Australian girls and young women see climate change as the single most pressing social issue facing the world and their personal futures.
They care about social issues and see girls as having great potential to lead change on ending sexism, accessing education and addressing climate change.
Girls and young women are incredibly eager to lead social change, but they don’t feel they are being heard. This is particularly true for younger girls.
Girls feel that the main areas they can lead the biggest change in worldwide are achieving gender equality, reducing the impact of climate change, lobbying for universal education and tackling violence.
The girl and women leaders they admire the most are taking a bold stand on these issues, including Malala Yousafzai (campaigning for girls’ education), Greta Thunberg (lobbying for political action on climate change), Emma Watson (advocating for girls’ and women’s rights globally) and Serena Williams (challenging sexism in sports).
The attributes girls most admire in girl activists are (in order): that they are speaking up and taking a stand; that they are strong, fearless and courageous; and that they are not deterred by trolling, nay-sayers or abuse.
Australian girls and young women are inspired by people around them to achieve their goals – their mothers and their friends are the most important figures boosting their confidence.
They identify a raft of issues holding girls and women back from achieving their dreams including sexism, violence, discrimination and lack of education and opportunities to lead.
The biggest wish these girls and young women have for their sisters around the world is stopping harassment and violence, achieving gender equality and reversing the impact of climate crisis. They want freedom for girls and young women to be themselves, this includes a shift in social and cultural stereotypes and free and accessible education for all.