A major new report by global children’s charity Plan International suggests that North East Lincolnshire is the fifteenth worst place in the UK for a girl to grow up. But is Lincolnshire as a whole a place for a young woman to flourish?
Plan International UK launched the report as part of its flagship Because I am a Girl campaign to tackle gender inequality.
The results were based on a number of aspects including: child poverty, female life expectancy, teenage pregnancy, girls’ GCSE results and the numbers of girls Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEETs).
Research has shown a divided picture across the region of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, with North East Lincolnshire being the second worst place for a girl to grow up in.
Plan International UK head of girls’ rights Kerry Smith said: “Despite living in one of the most developed countries on earth, too many girls in the UK don’t enjoy their rights.”
Latest figures of life expectancy for women in 2014 in Lincolnshire averaged at 83.2 years old, compared to the male average of 79.6 years old.
The life expectancy of women in Lincolnshire has seen a continued increase since 2004, where the average life expectancy in the county was 81.5 years old.
This age is higher than the average life expectancy for the East Midlands, which was at 83.1 years old in 2014, according to data published by the Lincolnshire Research Observatory.
While girls perform better than boys at school, their experiences are often reinforcing stereotypes and precluding them from choosing certain subjects and careers.
In 2014/15, Lincolnshire saw education attainment levels at Key Stage 4 for female pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* to C at 68.39%.
This compares to male figures in the same academic year at 58.04%.
According to the Lincolnshire Research Observatory these figures saw a rise compared to results for females in the previous year, with 59.30% achieving five GCSEs at A* to C in 2013/14.
Lincolnshire has seen a rapid decrease in teenage pregnancies in the last few years.
In 2014, the percentage of teenage pregnancies was at 22.4% in Lincolnshire.
This has fallen from 40.6% in 2007, highlighting an improvement in the reduction of teenage pregnancies across the county.
Current figures also show that Lincolnshire has a lower rate of teenage pregnancies on average compared to England and Wales figures, which were at 22.9% in 2014.
The report by Plan International also draws on interviews from girls all around the UK – shining a light on daily discrimination, harassment, abuse and expectations of girls should look and behave.
Girls are subjected to high levels of violence, even at school, with one in five UK women reporting an experience of sexual abuse during their education.
Lincolnshire “Stay Safe Partnership”
In Lincolnshire, the county council has created a ‘Stay Safe Partnership‘ which brings together services and agencies (both Lincolnshire County Council and non-council to offer schools a ‘one stop shop’ for them to access staff training, student workshops, online resources and e learning to help their students across a wide range of priorities.
These include alcohol, drugs, NPS, sex, consent and healthy relationships and aim to help young people who face issues throughout Lincolnshire.
What do young women think about Lincolnshire?
Lincolnshire Reporter asked a number of girls at youth centres and community groups in Lincolnshire to see what they think about growing up in the county.
Here is what they had to say:
Beth, 17, said: “I think the main issues with growing up as a girl in Lincolnshire are: you couldn’t play rugby if you were a girl, girls played netball not basketball.
“It was assumed that I would take cooking at GCSE level because I was a girl and there were a few girls who were into playing football but there wasn’t really a team for them to play in.”
Mary, 22, said: “From growing up in Lincolnshire I have always felt safe, and the majority of people you meet are always friendly, polite and helpful.
“I have never struggled to find teams to play in, and generally people are quite supportive of women’s football too with no stigma about women playing football.
“Growing up [in Lincolnshire], I had all the same opportunities as my peers regardless of gender.”