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Challenges Facing Girls

It’s now well-documented that young people right across the UK are facing huge challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. For girls in our area these come on top of the impact of poverty, adversity and the pressure of everyday life.




Sadly teenage girls appear to be at greater risk of experiencing mental health issues than boys of the same age. They are at higher risk of self-harming and may be less likely to confide in parents and teachers due to expectations linked to being perfect. 


Girls are disproportionately influenced and affected by images, harassment and pressure online, in particular through social media platforms. They often face cultural attitudes and stereotypes that impact negatively on their self-esteem and are at greater risk of domestic abuse, exploitation & isolation.


Teenage girls are also less physically active than boys and less comfortable in public spaces such as parks and sports facilities due to concerns about body image and their safety.


  • Since the pandemic girls are 33% more likely to experience poor mental health

  • Girls aged 11 are 30% more likely to suffer from poor mental health than boys of the same age

  • Girls aged 18 are more than twice as likely to experience poor mental health than boys the same age

  • Hospital admissions of teenage girls for self-harm have more than tripled in the last 10 years

  • 88% of girls said they have been sent pictures or videos online that they did not want to see



​The 2016 Plan International Report identified that girls in our area were facing additional challenges in 5 significant areas:


  • Life Expectancy              

Their lives are shorter than those of girls in other areas

  • Child Poverty                   

Their communities are affected by extremely high rates of poverty

  •  Teenage Pregnancy        

They are more likely to become pregnant in their teens than other girls

  • GCSE Results                      

Their education is impacted by the challenges they face

  • Becoming ‘NEET’          
 (not in education, employment or training)

They are more likely to be isolated or inactive after leaving school

However… Rubies IS making a difference.


Whilst we can’t tackle the structural inequalities on our own, by focusing our work on self-esteem, resilience and safety we can help the next generation of Middlesbrough girls believe in themselves and recognise their potential. 

In 2020 Plan International followed up on their 2016 research 'The State of Girls Rights in the UK' and found that things had improved slightly for Middlesbrough girls. Liz & Krista were featured in the report and girls from the area were given the right to reply to the original findings.

We continue to believe that preventative work is just as important as support for girls who are already struggling and we are committed to doing all we can to change the perception of girls in our area.

Girl looking out at the transporter bridge

Statistics from STEER Education 2022, NHS Digital 2021, National Education Union 2022, Plan International 2016

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