All children deserve to grow up and achieve their dreams – regardless of their gender. Tragically, inequitable gender norms rob millions of girls and boys of their childhoods – and risk their futures. Often, these damaging expectations directly contribute to the violation of children’s human rights.

Gender norms describe how people of a particular gender and age are expected to behave in a given social context. Harmful gender norms result in many types of inequalities between girls and boys. However, while gender norms can affect all children, they are proven to disproportionately affect girls. More than 575 million girls live in countries where inequitable gender norms contribute to violations of their rights, like health, education, marriage and gender-based violence.

Gender refers to a complex system of roles, expressions, identities, performances, and qualities that are given gendered meaning by a society. Usually, they are assigned to people based on the appearance of their sex characteristics at birth. Gender characteristics can change over time and vary between cultures.

Gender norms are social principles that govern the behavior of girls, boys, women, and men in society and restrict their gender identity into what is considered to be appropriate. Gender norms are neither static nor universal and change over time. Some norms are positive, for example, the norm that children shouldn’t smoke. Other norms lead to inequality.

Read the full article about gender norms at Save the Children.