Young women feel ignored in politics globally; Just 21% satisfied in the Netherlands
Girls and young women feel underrepresented in politics worldwide, believe they are generally excluded from discussions, and think that politicians hardly represent their interests. Globally, only 11 percent are satisfied with their leaders' decisions on issues they care about. In the Netherlands, only about 21 percent of young women are satisfied.
Plan International asked nearly 29,000 girls and women aged 15 to 24 worldwide about their political participation. They reside in 29 different countries including Peru, Canada, Benin and Japan. About a thousand of participants were based in the Netherlands. The research was carried out in the run-up to the United Nations' World Girls' Day on 11 October, which draws attention to the rights and opportunities of girls.
Young women and girls consider participation in politics important. Almost all respondents (97 percent) said they are politically active, taking part in petitions, participating in school councils, or becoming members of youth organisations. They are most interested in issues related to poverty, unemployment, the environment, education and health. In the Netherlands, the respondents also consider climate change and both mental and physical health to be important political issues.
Despite their interest, the young women experience barriers to actually being politically active. For example, in many societies politics is seen as unsuitable for women, especially young women. They are often looked down upon and those surveyed said that others think they do not have enough knowledge or skills to participate. Women are frequent targets of intimidation, and are judged by their appearance or clothing more than male politicians or activists, the respondents said.
Young women also have few role models in politics. Only ten countries in the world have a female head of government, and only 26 percent of national parliamentarians are women, 1 percent of whom are under the age of 30.
"Their political participation, even when the door is open to them, is often symbolic and their contributions have not been integrated in a meaningful way," said Plan International director Stephen Omollo. "This means that so many decisions that affect their present and their future are made for young people rather than with them."
To rectify this, the development agency says more needs to be done to support girls and young women to impact their communities and countries. Governments and social media companies must provide more security, and tackle violent behavior, they said. National and local governments must also ensure that girls and women can participate in politics safely, and that they have real influence.
Reporting by ANP