Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

Women and girls are changing the narrative

International Women and Girls Series

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“Gender stereotypes perpetuate a system that makes it difficult for women to occupy positions of leadership. ECPAT strongly believes that these stereotypes must be challenged to ensure that every woman and girl has equal opportunities in all aspects of life and free from any form of violence and discrimination!”

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio,
Chair of ECPAT International

How are women across the world changing the narrative?

From an early age young girls learn that, because of gender norms and expectations, there will be barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential. Whether that comes in the form of being denied access to education, the expectation to marry young, or it presents itself in other insidious ways, such as sexual exploitation, young women all around the world are being denied their rights. 

Inclusion matters! Studies have shown [1] that the presence of women in leadership positions ensures peace, inclusion, and a more equitable society. When women join political conversations, they bring perspectives of the world that were silenced in the past. When women are in power, other women, young women, and girls have the space to speak up about their world’s experience, seeking for justice! 

The presence of women in leadership builds a roadmap that further inspires other girls to excel, achieve their goals, and become independent, all that while challenging the narrative of old gender norms and stereotypes! 

Despite the upheaval experienced by all because of the global pandemic, 2021 saw countless women breaking the glass ceiling and contributing to achieve gender equality!

  • Kaja Kallas was elected Estonia’s first female Prime Minister. She began her political career in 2011 as a member of the Estonian Parliament and was a member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2018.  
  • Samia Suluhu Hassan was elected President of Tanzania and is the first woman in the country covering this role. Suluhu-Hassan is also the third female head of government of an East African Community (EAC) country.  
  • Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa was elected Prime Minister of Samoa. Before this, she had the role of Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, becoming the first woman in Samoan history elected as a Minister in 1999.  
  • Robinah Nabbanja was nominated Prime Minister of Uganda. Before her appointment to the position, Nabbanja served as the State Minister of Health until the end of 2019. She served as the elected Member of Parliament for Kakumiro District Women Constituency in Uganda until 2021.  
  • Najla Bouden Ramadhane is Tunisia’s Prime Minister and the first woman to lead a country in the Arab region.  
  • After Barbados became a Republic, Sandra Mason was elected as the country’s first-ever female President. Mason built a high-level career path since 1991. To mention a few of her achievements, she was the chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the first woman magistrate from Barbados to be appointed Ambassador to Venezuela, and she became the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.  
  • Magdalena Andersson was elected as the Prime Minister of Sweden. She started her political career at the age of 16, and became the Swedish Minister of Finance in 2014.  
  •  Xiomara Castro was elected President of Honduras in 2021 and officially started her mandate in 2022. She is also the President of the Women’s organization of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America (Copppal Mujeres) since 2016. 

Additionally, the Latin American countries of Chile and Brazil voted in favour of laws and legislations that guarantee women and young women the rights to political participation and representation challenging forms of gender and racial discrimination. 

Albania had a record of 70% women in the cabinet, and Germany achieved for the first time a gender-equal cabinet. Iraq and Kosovo had seen their cabinet composed of a higher percentage of women compared to the allocated gender quotas [2].   

“When you’re a leader, you’re changing the narrative. We need to train our young girls on the importance of education. We need to reclaim our power so that we raise a different generation that understands there is power, but there is power that you can control.”

Editar Adhiambo Ochieng
Founder of the Feminist for Peace Rights and Justice Center

Meet some of the most influential women in leadership positions working for the protection of children! 

Mayerlín Vergara Pérez is the director of the Colombian NGO Fundación Renacer – ECPAT member. She assisted many children and young people in Colombia who were victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. She was awarded the UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award, a prestigious prize that honours those who have made a great impact in refugee protection. 

Rebecca Chepkateke is the Chairperson of the Karita Women’s Network, a coalition formed under the Spotlight Initiative, in the Amudat District of northern Uganda. She was elected to strengthen the advocacy of women and girls in the villages as she provides precious links between young women experiencing violence, justice, and health services.  

Belen Perugachi is the youngest advocate for children and young indigenous people rights in Ecuador. At the age of only 16 years old, she is the youngest member of the Rights Protection Council of Cayambe Municipality. 

Editar Adhiambo Ochieng is the founder of the Feminist for Peace Rights and Justice Center located in Kibera, Kenya. She is a survivor of sexual violence aiming to enhance young women’s leadership skills and develop practical tools to tackle gender-based violence in Kibera.  

Brisa De Angulo is a survivor of sexual exploitation and abuse that runs Bolivia’s first-ever centre for child survivors of sexual abuse, A Breeze of Hope. She contributed to improving Bolivia’s response to prosecuting aggressors of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Click here to learn more about ECPAT’s initiatives to end the sexual exploitation of children around the world. 

With your support, all children can grow up safe from exploitation and abuse. Learn how you can get involved here!