Millions of "invisible girls" at risk because of missing data, says new report from Plan International

Report is first in a new series that shines a light on issues facing girls and women

TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - A ground-breaking global report issued today in Canada by Plan International Canada finds that millions of girls are invisible to governments and policy makers because they are not being counted.  The report reveals that the abuse and inequality they face will not end until there are better statistics on the realities of their lives.

The report, Counting the Invisible, notes that governments are effectively blind to the injustices facing millions of girls because they aren't being counted. The reality is that there are currently no credible statistics worldwide that show the challenges faced by millions of girls, such as how many drop out of school due to early marriage, pregnancy or sexual violence, or how many become mothers under the age of 15.

"We need this information to persuade governments to take steps to end abuse, child marriage and early pregnancies that lead to thousands of deaths," said Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Plan International Canada. "We cannot improve what we can't measure. We must make sure every girl counts and can be counted."

Counting the Invisible kicks off a series of reports that will track the progress of girls and women towards true equality during the 15-year lifespan of the Global Goals, which were agreed upon by world leaders in 2015 and which promise to transform the world by 2030.

While this is a global report urging governments to work toward improved statistics, Plan International Canada has long recognized the need for rich data. One of the few leading institutions in the country in this emerging domain, Plan International Canada is able to identify the most vulnerable people through the collection and evaluation of rigorous data. Data, for example, can help us see not only whether a woman receives post-delivery care after giving birth, but also paints a picture of her experience of poverty and vulnerability.

While monitoring and evaluation has been an important mainstay of international development for years, sophisticated new approaches to data combined with decades of experience allow for the ability to look past the numbers and find those individuals who are most in need, in order to develop customized programs that deliver results.

"Data alone won't change the world, but it can help make change possible by revealing insights, identifying needs, and gauging what works and what does not in transforming lives," said Caroline Riseboro, "In the hands of advocates and activists for girls' and women's rights, good data can be powerful tools for driving positive and lasting progress towards equality."

Counting the Invisible urges governments to fill gaps in data such as incidences of sexual harassment. Another urgent issue is to break down current available data to give a more complete picture of reality on the basis of a girl's age, sex, ethnicity, wealth, location or disability.

The report highlights the vision of a coalition of organizations working to hold governments to their commitments. The partners in this coalition include Data 2X, KPMG, the International Women's Health Coalition, One Campaign, Plan International and Women Deliver. The aim of this partnership is to produce an independent tracker that advocates, activists, governments and civil society partners can use to measure and press for progress towards  gender equality.

This report is Plan International's contribution to the coalition as part of its Because I am a Girl global initiative – a movement to ensure that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive. It has been released in the lead up to the 5th International Day of the Girl on October 11, when girls across the country will declare that they belong in leadership positions across political, economic and business sectors here in Canada and globally in the #GirlsBelongHere initiative.

Note to Editors:
Counting the Invisible report and associated case studies with high resolution images can be downloaded here.

About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl movement

Founded in 1937, Plan International Canada is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children's rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive. Visit and for more information.

Media contacts

Irene Whittaker-Cumming
Senior Manager, Communications, Plan International Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext. 549 | C: 647-284-9575 |

Kaili Colford
Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan International Canada 
T: 416 920-1654 ext. 350 | C: 647-459-7557 |

SOURCE Plan Canada

Image with caption: "Plan International Canada & Because I am a Girl logo (CNW Group/Plan Canada)". Image available at:


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