Today, countries around the world commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child. In 2012, the United Nations passed by consensus a resolution that set aside October 11 as a day when the global community stops and considers the issues impacting the lives of girls around the world. The aims of the day are to highlight the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
The day was set aside following a rigorous process that started with the SADC Third Committee negotiated resolution that considers themes surrounding the girl child around the world. In 2010 the SADC resolution pinpointed the disproportionate discrimination girls endured just because they are born a girl — among them are lack of education opportunities, household chores including looking after sick siblings or parents, sexual abuse and exploitation. Central to the burdens around the world is the challenge encountered by milions of girls like child brides through tbe practice of child, early and forced marriages — an inherently global phenomenon. The International Day of the Girl Child (Day of the Girl) is therefore celebrated annually on October 11 to highlight issues concerning the gender inequality facing young girls such as child marriage. The 2017 IDGC theme is “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030”.
According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women), there are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, each with limitless individual potential, however, they are disappearing from public awareness and the international development agenda. UN Women states that girls face inequities in secondary education and there is always the daunting issue of protection. Additionally, adolescent girls are uniquely impacted and should benefit from targeted investments and programmes that address their distinct needs.
UN Women further holds that investing in adolescent girls can have a formidable ripple effect to create a better world by 2030.
The world’s 1,1 billion girls are a source of power, energy, and creativity – and the millions of girls in emergencies are no exceptionis. The United Nations is pleased to announce the start, during this year’s International Day of the Girl on October 11, of a year-long effort to spur global attention and action to the challenges and opportunities girls face before, during, and after crises.
Across the world, 15 million girls are married each year before the age of 18. Evidence shows that ending child marriage will catalyse efforts towards achieving the SDGs by improving educational attainment, income and maternal and child health. A recent study by the World Bank and International Centre for Research on Women found that the practice costs the global economy trillions of dollars. To illustrate how ending child marriage will help to achieve the SDGs, Girls Not Brides has launched a short film, available online in nine languages.
“Our film shows that child marriage isn’t a niche issue, it’s a key barrier stopping us from achieving half of our development goals,” said Ms Sundaram. “If we truly want to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of the 15 million girls married every year, ending child marriage must be a global priority.”
Empowering girls to live in a world free from violations is not only a basic human right, it is critical for economic growth, the eradication of poverty, their meaningful participation in decision-making and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In her speech to 50 Key UN Diplomats, 19-year-old Girls Speakers Bureau member, Saba, illustrated the lived experience. “I have no title to my name. I am just a girl.
“I want you to picture me placing a huge stonewall in front of you. There is no way to climb it or go around it. Essentially you’re trapped and invisible. ‘Why me?’ you ask. What if I told you it’s just because of your gender? Wouldn’t you feel helpless and vulnerable? This is how many girls feel every day.”
It is each of the actions and events centered around the International Day of the Girl Child that will promote equal treatment and opportunities for girls to get around these “stonewalls” they run into every day.