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Poignant images of girls and young women grace thepromotional brochures of almost every public agencyand nongovernmental organization in internationaldevelopment. Politicians and public officials routinelyinvoke the importance of improving the chancesof success for young people and providing betteropportunities for the next generation. In elaboratesigning ceremonies world leaders commit to reducingthe toll of poor schooling, ill health, violence, anddiscrimination on girls and young women. And fastgrowingcountries that export consumer goods andare expanding their service industry rely heavily on alarge pool of young female labor. Yet girls remain atthe margins of development policies and programs.

This report is about why and how to put girls at thecenter of development.It is about how the health ofeconomies and families depends on protecting therights of and fostering opportunities for today’s girls.It is about how far girls in many developing countrieshave come—but how far we remain from a world inwhich girls’ rights are respected.

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