We like to think we’re the lucky country, but Save The Children tell us that if you are a girl, this just is not the case. Their just-released report reveals that Australia is far from getting top marks when it comes to the status of girls and women. The ‘Every Last Girl’ report was released on International Day of the Girl Child and ranks us at a pretty dismal 21 on the list, with Sweden taking the number one spot, and Finland and Norway not far behind, coming in at 2 and 3, respectively.
The Girls Opportunity Index ranks 144 countries, factoring in how child marriage, teen fertility, maternal mortality, government representation and lower secondary school completion to come up with a final metric.
The countries that ranked above us are listed below – and view the entire report and all 144 countries here.
16 New Zealand
Not good enough
Why is Australia ranking out of the top twenty, we hear you ask?
Save The Children say it’s due to factors such as women being under-represented in parliament and our teen pregnancy rate being quite high.
The same issues impacted the UK and Canada’s ranking, and interestingly the US came in way below Australia at number 32 with teen pregnancy, infant mortality and under-representation in government weighing them – and their girls – down.
Save the Children CEO and president Carolyn Miles flagged the lack of women in powerful, decision-making roles as a particularly worrying discovery.
“One of the most shocking aspects of this report is the discovery that some of the developed countries have the worst cases of women being underrepresented in government,” she told Newsweek.
A global crisis for girls
The report also revealed that:
- One girl under 15 is married every seven seconds.
- 62 million girls are out of school.
- Girls are often marginalised in household and public decision-making.
- An estimated 70,000 adolescent girls die each year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
- Every year 2.5 million girls under 16 give birth.
- An estimated 30 million girls are at risk of female genital cutting in the next decade.
Where to from here?
Save the Children are calling for immediate government action to address the challenges that girls are facing.
“Concrete action is needed to tackle power imbalances that rob girls of the personal resources and sense of agency that they need to make their own life choices, and to build supportive social, legal and political environments for change,” they say.
They’re calling on all governments to provide inclusive and equal opportunities for girls, encouraging funding for programs that further their growth and education. They’re also hoping to reduce discrimination against girls and ensure their experiences and needs are prioritised and better understood.
Find out more about the report and what you can do to help girls live better lives at Save The Children.