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International Women’s Day - Islington Council and Plan International UK announce the UK’s first local champion for women and girls

Islington Council and Plan International UK have today announced that the council will appoint a ‘Women and Girls Champion’, the first appointment of its kind in the UK.

Plan International UK is an expert in girls’ rights, and for more than 80 years has fought for equality for girls across the world. The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK report released in 2016 aimed to give a voice to a group who are amongst the least heard - girls, and to bring attention to the huge challenges they face here in the UK.

Around 100 young women and girls were interviewed for the report, and the charity listened to them about their lives. As a result of this report, Plan International UK has called for the UK government to treat girls as a priority group to highlight and address their needs in a way that hasn’t been done before by appointing Girls’ Rights Champions at national, devolved and local levels.

At Islington Council’s International Women’s Day event today, the council is formally committing to creating a new ‘Women and Girls Champion’, a councillor who will be responsible for working to highlight what more can be done to ensure the rights of women and girls are protected, as well as championing services designed to support them and to end violence against them.

The event, hosted by the council in partnership with the Children and Young People’s Voluntary Sector Forum, Islington Play Association and All Change, also featured speakers including Julia Griggs and Allison Dunatchik, authors of the BBC Women’s Hour report The Best Places in Britain for Women, and women leaders from around the borough.

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council's Executive Member for Community Development, said:

“In recent months we have seen powerful examples of how women have spoken out against sexual harassment and discrimination in society through the #MeToo movement.

“The fight for women’s equality is not over, and too many women in Islington and the world are facing harassment, discrimination and violence.

“We as a council have a responsibility to ensure that everything we do that affects the lives of women and girls has a focus on achieving equality. For that reason, we’re proud to act on the recommendations contained within Plan International’s report and will appoint a ‘Women and Girls Champion’.”

Tanya Barron, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said:

“We’re excited that Islington Council has been inspired by our research to lead the way for girls’ rights in London. By electing someone to specifically champion women and girls’ rights in their borough, Islington will take a huge step in tackling the barriers faced by girls.

“Talking to girls across the country, we discovered that girls don’t feel safe on the streets, in the classroom or online. Despite this, we don’t talk enough about adolescent girls as a particular demographic group. Often discussed problems need to be understood from girls’ particular perspectives, and in terms of human rights. All too often, girls can’t access their rights, and whether they can enjoy these rights is dependent on where they live and the decisions made at a local level. We recognise that local governments have taken some steps to prioritise girls’ needs but much more needs to be done.

“We’re hopeful that this move by Islington Council sets a precedent and encourages other local authorities to follow suit. It’s incredibly important that girls’ needs are addressed at both a local and national level.”

Kate Robson 
Senior Media Officer 
Islington Council 
Room G16, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD 
Tel: 0207 527 8004 
Out of hours mob: 07769 163303 
Alternative contact: Media line 020 7527 2307 
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