Photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
Girls must be represented where decisions are taken and the future is formed. No one is too young to contribute to change, but girls are often rendered invisible. Sweden’s feminist foreign policy is needed more than ever in a world where women’s and girls’ enjoyment of their human rights is called into question or opposed.
As a group in society, girls are often doubly discriminated – both on the basis of their gender and their age. We must break the pattern and focus on girls’ agency and leadership to ensure their rights and create democratic and sustainable societies.
In some countries, discrimination of girls begins even before they are born through the selective abortion of female foetuses. The injustices begin in childhood. For example, as infants girls more often have inadequate access to food, medical treatment and care than boys. Globally, girls have also fewer opportunities for education than boys, and of those children who go to school more girls than boys do not complete their schooling, due in part to domestic and care work, child marriage or lack of menstrual hygiene facilities at school. Gender inequality is also manifested by the fact that girls run a greater risk of being subjected to genital mutilation and sexual and gender-based violence. In addition, in several countries girls and boys are not equal before the law, which, for example, is seen in the fact that boys have greater rights than girls to inherit and own land.
Despite the discrimination, girls around the world are standing up against antiquated traditions, norms and laws. Sweden wants to support them and make them visible.
In 2014, Sweden became the first country in the world to launch a feminist foreign policy. The aim is to strengthen all women’s and girls’ rights, representation and resources. This policy is needed. No country has attained full gender equality, advances are challenged and women and girls remain systematically subordinate around the world. Sweden wants to see an end to the injustices, ensure all women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of their human rights and make girls’ agency and leadership visible.
As a part of the feminist foreign policy, the MFA is contributing to the global campaign #GirlsTakeover. It is an initiative from Plan International whereby girls throughout the world occupy positions of power in connection with International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October. At 21 missions abroad, girls from the local society will be invited to participate in the work of the mission for a day. Follow the work on #GirlsTakeOver.
Swedish missions abroad have conducted or are planning #GirlsTakeover activities in these 21 countries: Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Norway, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.