17/10/2014 13:09 BST | Updated 17/12/2014 05:59 GMT

Girls' Body Confidence - It's Time For Politicians to Act

It's become depressingly normal for girls to worry about what they look like. They are obsessing over even the tiniest perceived defect - from a mole to hair colour.

These seemingly innocuous parts of the body make girls feel ashamed. They spend hours trying to work out how to hide or get rid of them or considering drastic action to change their bodies. Meanwhile one throwaway comment can completely knock any progress they make -justifying every tiny fear they've ever had.

With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that a quarter of girls age 11-21 would consider plastic surgery. It's not just the hyper-image-aware teens that are affected either, a fifth of primary school girls say that they've been on a diet.

87% of girls aged 11-21 believe that they are judged more on their looks than their ability. It's an unbelievable figure - but you can see why girls think this way. The belief that they don't look good enough and that they are judged most on how good they look is preventing girls from putting their hands up and saying 'I can do anything I want to do'

Time To Act

It's important for politicians to listen to girls when they speak out about body confidence issues. Politicians are the people with the power, in the long term, to shape a society where girls and young women are able to say with confidence that something is unacceptable, whether it's a comment that knocks their confidence or an advert that has been airbrushed to the extreme.

Politicians are also the people shaping the education young people receive every day. They have the power to introduce education concepts that will help young people to understand how the world around them is affecting their ability to remain confident in themselves, and provide the means to tackle any lack of self-confidence.

This is why we are calling on politicians to build body confidence by pledging to support our calls for action - namely to add lessons promoting body confidence to school timetables.

We aren't just asking for changes in culture and policy, we're living and breathing the world we'd like to see, and helping girls to build self-confidence for the future.

The opportunities available allow girls and young women to learn that the way they feel about their body has no impact on what that body can do for them.

Now the time has come for politicians to act. They have the power to show that girls matter and we hope they listen to our calls for change and boost the self-esteem of a generation of girls.

Join Girlguiding's Girls Matter campaign and help girls voices be heard.