More than 95 percent of Aussie girls feel they’re being treated unequally to boys, and many are losing confidence as they approach adulthood.
The saddening statistics come from the ‘Dream Gap’ report, a new study into gender inequality by the children’s charity Plan International Australia.
Released on International Day of the Girl (October 11), the study surveyed more than 1,700 Australian girls aged between 10 and 17. It shows that girls are struggling to believe they can be leaders, are feeling sidelined by sexist attitudes in areas like sports, the media, school and at home, and constantly feel judged on their appearance.
More than nine out of ten girls in the survey (91%) felt it would be easier to get ahead if they were treated the same way as boys are treated.
“I want girls to stop being treated as basically walking barbie dolls.” ~ Survey Participant
The report also showed that girls lose confidence as they grow older. At age 10, more than half (56 per cent) of girls view themselves as confident, but by age 17 that number has dropped to 44 per cent. Then, by their early adult years (18-25), only 57 per cent agree they have ‘every opportunity to become a leader’ compared to 75 per cent of the girls aged 10-14.
Plan International is calling for government action to close the gender inequality gap. They want to see an end to gendered school uniforms, and a ban on sexist, objectifying advertising, to “prevent girls and boys growing up with unhealthy and restrictive stereotypes”.
“In order to reduce violence against women and girls, the gendered drivers of violence such as men’s control of decision-making, rigid gender roles and identities and disrespect towards women must be tackled and changed,” says the report.
As part of the study, Plan International interviewed 18 Australian girls aged between 10 and 17, with many sharing inspiring insights into how girls are feeling and thinking.
In a video (above), girls are seen sharing talking about inequality, and how they feel about our image-obsessed culture, with comments like:
“I want girls to stop being treated as basically walking barbie dolls.”
“I would change the world for girls so they’re not judged at all.”
“I would change the idea that girls can’t do things that boys can do. If a girl wants to do something they should be able to do it regardless of gender stereotypes.”
“I would let every girl feel comfortable in their own skin and not live up to expectation.”
“Girls get judged a lot. Boys go out, they don’t get judged. But girls, they put make up on, their hair up and still, they get judged.”
“Girls and women of all ages should not be seen as a sexual object.”
“I want girls to be respected regardless of how they look and what they choose to wear.”
Plan International works around the world to improve opportunities for women and girls. It also runs child sponsorship programs, and campaigns to end child marriage.