What's on the school curriculum? Is health advice provided free of charge? What's the punishment for violence against girls and women? All over the world, the answers to these questions (and many more) come from world leaders and their governments.
They make the decisions, allocate the budgets and design the policies that set in motion a sequence of events that can change the course of a girl's life forever. But more often than not, that process is out of reach for girls.
The recent World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka was an opportunity to open up that process, as more than 700 youth delegates discussed key issues in an open forum. Girls and young women from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts were out in force for the five-day event, and we asked five of them to send a message to their leaders and governments about what girls need to thrive.
Angeli Siladan's memo for Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III, president of the Philippines
Having participated in a hackathon at the World Conference on Youth, I've seen first-hand the vast imagination of girls and their eagerness to tackle problems using technologies.
I want to urge you to invest in quality education for girls. I believe that available, accessible and quality education will bridge the gap between girls and women, and success. Basically, education encompasses all the other issues we face, including health and economics. - Angeli
Pippa Gardner's memo for David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom
To equip girls to thrive, we've got to identify and act upon the root causes of inequalities. If we had more equal representation in parliament then I believe that other gender issues, such as domestic violence and childcare policies, would receive more attention and discussion. So in the UK we need to see more women in politics. We need women to engage, vote, stand as candidates, become MPs and get in the cabinet. - Pippa
Hilary Clauson's memo to Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada
To tackle the youth employment crisis, education in Canada must incentivise women to enter disciplines where they have been traditionally under-represented, such as science and engineering. This will increase the number of career choices open to girls and women. Formal education should be complemented by non-formal education opportunities, such as Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Members learn leadership skills, develop their independence and aspirations, and are empowered to take an active role in their communities. - Hilary
Chamathya Fernando's memo to Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka
I went to the Men Engage session at the World Conference on Youth, where we looked at ways to get boys and men involved in working for gender equality. For girls and young women to have access to equal opportunities and the ability to make our own decisions, boys and men are essential.
I would like to ask you to consider girls' and women's empowerment as key priorities in Sri Lanka's development agenda. I would also like to ask you to promote female representation in parliament to enable girls and young women to become future leaders. For this to happen, law and order must be effective, efficient, transparent, accurate and unbiased. - Chamathya
Elisabeth Chatuwa's memo to Peter Mutharika, president of Malawi
During the conference, I spent my time considering the ways we can achieve equal access to quality education in Malawi. I believe that the government can make this happen by opening more girls' schools and provide free education resources for them.
Furthermore, I now think that the curriculum should include lessons on the effects of HIV, child marriage and early pregnancy. This will give girls all the essential information they need to make life-changing decisions. - Elizabeth
As global leaders gather this summer to discuss upcoming development priorities for 2015, let's make sure what girls have to say stays top of mind. On Day of the African Child (June 16), Plan will launch its #10DaystoAct campaign in the lead up to the African Union Summit on June 26. You can get involved here.
Got a message for the leader of your country? Tell us.