Girls Matter

Our campaign continues to make sure girls' voices are heard by those in power

I'd really like girls' voices heard all over the place, since the government doesn't listen to them and lots of people think girls don't matter as much as boys - Katie, 8, London

Girls Matter is a call for change to party leaders to improve the lives of girls and young women

The voices of girls and young women are important, and need to be heard by those in power. But in 2014, before the General Election, we spoke to 2,400 of our young members and they told us that their voices weren't being listened to by the people in power, and the things they cared about weren't being taken seriously. They also told us how they wanted politicians to take action to improve the lives of girls and young women in the UK.

Girls Matter is our ongoing campaign to get their voices heard. 

Our calls for change

As part of the campaign, our Advocates identified eight changes that would make a difference to girls’ lives and they called on politicians and party leaders to act. Download the full report to explore them in full. 

1. Listen to girls and young women, take them seriously and make sure their voices count

Promise to regularly consult girls and young women from all backgrounds and ensure their views are considered in policy decisions that affect their lives.

Politicians need to connect with the girls and young women they are representing to fully understand the impact of their decisions - Heather, 23, Totnes, Girlguiding Advocate

2. Demand schools take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual bullying and harassment

Promise to introduce guidance that all schools must use to tackle this issue.

By ensuring schools take a no-tolerance approach to this kind of behaviour, the government would be improving the day-to-day lives of girls - Amy, 16, Glasgow, Girlguiding Advocate

3. Call on all schools to teach body confidence and gender equality

Promise to make Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) compulsory and urge schools to include lessons on body confidence and gender equality.

I spent most of my teenage years plagued by self-doubt. Had it been a requirement for my school to teach body confidence, then that angst would more than likely have been prevented - Nikki, 22, Southampton, Girlguiding Advocate

4. Make girls’ rights a priority in the UK's approach to international development

Promise that the Department for International Development will focus on equality for girls, including advocating for girls' rights to be central to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Girls must not be excluded or forgotten in the post-2015 global development agenda. And the government should show its commitment by also taking a zero-tolerance stance towards the infringement of girls' rights here in the UK - Haley, 20, Carrickfergus, Girlguiding Advocate

5. Stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content in mainstream media

Promise to bring print and online media in line with the principles of the broadcast watershed.

Too often the media present women as merely sex objects. Parliament needs to take the lead to show that girls and women are worth so much more than that - they are individual, intelligent and equal human beings - Katie, 18, Doncaster, Girlguiding Advocate

6. Empower girls and young women to speak out and be heard on the impact of media sexism and stereotyping

Promise to establish a girls' and young women' s advisory panel to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Giving girls a voice on how this can be tackled is really important. Things have to change. - Morgan, 17, Girlguiding Advocate

7. Modernise Sex and Relationships Education so all young people can make informed decisions and stay safe

Promise to make Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in all schools and update the curriculum to include healthy relationships, sexual consent, online safety, violence against women and girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships.

We need to prepare children and teens for the challenges and joys of respectful relationships by having open and frank discussions about trust, consent, respect and equality as well as issues that aren' t currently covered in lessons - Julia, 19, Ashby de la Zouch, Girlguiding Advocate

8. Guarantee that women will be equally represented in parliament

Promise to set a target for an increased number of female MPs in your party by the 2020 General Election and do what it takes to meet it, no excuses.

With women making up only 25 per cent of MPs, political parties should do more to ensure that women are visible within Parliament - Daisy, 18, Holmfirth, Girlguiding Advocate

The impact of Girls Matter

In 2015, as the General Election got closer, we really ramped up our work to get girls' voices and these calls for change heard – as a result, all the major parties took up some of the calls in their manifestos. Over 10% of cross-party MPs signing up to support Girls Matter and over 5000 people pledged their support for girls’ calls.

How we're taking it forward

We are still working hard to make sure the government implement these calls to change before 2020. We believe they could transform girls' lives and make Britain a fairer and more equal place for girls to grow up and flourish in.