Girls and Young Women in the 21st Century: A call to action
Throughout the world gender discrimination and stereotyping limit the full development and participation of girls and young women, as well as boys and young men. Until all girls receive the same opportunities as their male counterparts, their fundamental human rights are denied and the conditions for sustainable human development are unfulfilled. It is vital for the future that girls and young women grow up to become leaders in their families, and communities ; and, increasingly, in the workplace and in society. Youth movements have a powerful role to play in the development of autonomous, supportive, responsible and committed (1) young people in a truly equal society.
In previous documents, the Chief Executive Officers of the world’s largest youth movements have addressed the developmental role of non formal education and the need for comprehensive National Youth Policies. In this paper, we argue that constructive considerations of gender should be integrated into all programmes for children and young people. Once young people are aware of the harmful impact of artificial gender barriers imposed by cultural beliefs, perceived roles and traditional practices, they themselves can practise equality.
This paper is addressed to all those involved in shaping youth policies, whether in government, education, non- governmental organizations or as employers, donors or investors. It first describes the situation facing women and the consequent issues for girls and young women. The majority of the document focuses on recommendations - the necessity for coherent, consistent National Youth Policies, the benefits youth organizations bring to girls and boys through non formal education and recommendations for other agencies and individuals working with young people to create an equal and just society.