A new study has revealed the best and worst places to grow up as a girl in England and Wales, showing a major disparity among regions as seven of the top ten best places are located in the South of England, while eight of the worst places are in the North.
Conducted by Plan UK, the study looked at several factors to determine results, including child poverty, educational attainment, and teenage pregnancy rates. The study is the first of its kind to consider the experiences of girls throughout each local authority in both countries.
At the top of the list is Waverley in Surrey. This was followed by Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire, Chiltern in Buckinghamshire, and Mole Valley and Epsom and Ewell, both in Surrey.
Meanwhile, Blackpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Liverpool round out the bottom five, along with Middlesborough, reports Kate Ferguson for The Mirror.
A split between the north and the south was not the only divide noted. Researchers also found inner city areas performed the worst, while areas in the rural South-East performed highly.
The report, “The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK,” ranks areas according to factors such as child poverty, life expectancy, teenage pregnacy, GCSE results, and numbers not in education, employment or training. In addition, interviews of 103 girls and young women throughout the UK were carried out by researchers.
Results show that while girls are outperforming boys in terms of exams while at school, their experiences typically reinforce stereotypes that keep them from choosing certain subjects and careers, writes Rachel Moss for The Huffington Post.
In addition, it found one in five women in the UK experience some form of sexual abuse during their education.
Study authors concluded that girls across the UK are “failing” and that the government needs to “take action.”
“Our overall conclusion is the UK is failing girls and what needs to happen is urgent action to address this,” said Lucy Russell, UK girls’ rights campaigner for Plan and co-author of the report. “We heard very strongly from girls that they were facing harassment every day, that meant they were facing harassment in schools, they were getting name-calling, unwanted sexual touching, groping. Our conclusion is that despite being one of the most developed countries on Earth, there are too many girls in the UK who aren’t enjoying their rights.”
Russell went on to say that opportunities available to girls throughout their lives are closely linked to where they live. She added that the UK is not meeting its promise to girls that was originally laid out in the UN’s sustainable development goals.
The report is suggesting the creation of a girls committee, as well as mandatory sex and relationship education and an increase in cross-departmental government work pertaining to addressing the problems found.
A spokesman for the Government noted their commitment to the creation of a country that helps all of its citizens, adding that all girls should be able to get ahead in life no matter their gender or hometown.
He added that schools across the UK have been given clear guidance on sex and relationship education. Products have been offered to help with discussions of body image to allow students to better respect themselves and others.
He went on to say that teenage pregnancy rates in the country are the lowest they have been for the past 40 years. The government is also continuing efforts to reduce childhood poverty, as the number of children living in households with both parents out of work at a record low.
He concluded by saying that government would like to do even more, and so are pushing girls across the UK to participate in STEM subjects and working to eliminate the gender pay gap.