Girlguiding's new Girls Matter campaign is lobbying politicians ahead of the major party conferences to "prove" that the concerns and needs of young women will be addressed and taken seriously in the 2015 election.
Girlguiding says that young women in the UK often feel they are treated as "second class citizens". Additionally, it found that:
– 87% of girls aged 11–21 think that women are judged more on their appearance than on their ability
– 75% of girls and young women aged 11–21 think there are too many images of naked or nearly naked women in the media
– Sexual harassment is endemic: 70% of girls aged 13 and over report experiences starting in school
– 61% of 11–16s say schools sometimes or always dismiss sexual harassment as "just a bit of banter"
– 60% of young women aged 16–21 have felt patronised or made to feel stupid because of their sex
– 76% of girls say girls are judged harshly for sexual behaviour seen as acceptable in boys
– Three quarters of 11–21s say sexism affects most areas of their lives
The Girls Matter campaign has released a powerful video of girls discussing what it's like to be a young woman today, and what changes they'd like to see in society.
"Society these days makes you want to be perfect."
"The Sun, like on Page Three, they show women showing off their body parts and stuff, and they don't treat men with that disrespect."
"I think mostly men are in charge of the country, and I think women should be in charge too."
Girls Matter calls on politicians and MPs to make the following changes:
1. Listen to girls and young women, take them seriously, and make sure their voices count
2. Demand that schools take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual bullying and harassment
3. Call on all schools to teach body confidence and gender equality
4. Make girls' rights a priority in the UK's approach to international development
5. Stop children's exposure to harmful sexualised content in mainstream media
6. Empower girls and young women to speak out and be heard on the impact of media sexism and stereotyping
7. Modernise sex and relationships education so all young people can make informed decisions and stay safe
8. Guarantee that women will be equally represented in parliament