As you may have seen in the media recently, Sunday the 11th of October is the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. Back in 2011, the UN marked this day in order to promote the rights of girls and women, as well as to highlight the continuing discrimination they suffer.
According to Plan UK, research has shown that simply being born a female places a child at a disadvantage, especially in the developing world. In some countries, one out of seven girls will be married before the age of 15. Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the biggest killers of girls between the ages of 15-19 worldwide. Girls face a greater risk of hunger and disease as compared to boys, and they will generally be given fewer opportunities for education and career advancement.
Every year, the Day of the Girl has had a particular theme. This year it is ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl: A Vision for 2030’, but previous themes have been –
- Ending child marriage;
- Innovating for Girls’ education; and
- Ending the cycle of violence.
In 2000 the UN created and implemented the Millennium Development Goals, which means that the girls targeted at the time will now be adolescents.
According to the UN, there has been a lot of success and progress since the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals. Today, girls between 0-10 years old are more likely to enrol in primary school, receive life saving vaccinations and are less likely to suffer from the health problems of older generations.
Despite these impressive developments however, there has not been as much focus on what happens to these girls once they reach adolescence. Arguably, the second decade of life will bring different challenges with puberty, marriage and children looming. Girls who continue into secondary education will be more prepared to break the cycle of poverty, mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDs and lower the rate of crime and trafficking.
In order to tackle these issues, the UN has created a new set of goals specifically tailored to adolescent girls, to be achieved by 2030. The UN is calling on Member States and other organisations to commit to the following goals and investments:
- Invest in high quality education, skills, training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership.
- Invest in health and nutrition suitable to the adolescent years, including puberty education, menstrual hygiene management, and sexual and reproductive health education and services.
- Promote zero tolerance against physical, mental, and sexual violence.
- Enact and consistently implement social, economic, and policy mechanisms to combat early marriage and female genital mutilation.
- Invest in the creation and maintenance of social and public spaces for civic and political engagement, creativity and talent enhancement.
- Promote gender-responsive legislation and policies across all areas especially for adolescent girls who are disabled, vulnerable and marginalized, and victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The UN sends a strong message to young girls; they must be agents for the change they want to see in the world.
From the point of view of A Bloody Good Cause and our supporters, it is great to see menstrual health being included explicitly in this list of goals as it has such a profound effect on the education and development of girls in developing countries.
You can get involved in various events taking place across the country this weekend, most notably the massive event taking place tomorrow at the Southbank Centre. If you’re going to be in or around Norwich this weekend there are some fantastic talks and workshops taking place, which you can find here.
Finally, for those wanting to celebrate with a more sedentary approach, this week has also seen the timely release of films such as ‘Suffragette’ and ‘He Named Me Malala’ to whet the feminist appetite!
If you’re interested in reading more about women’s rights in relation to education, my next post on that very subject will be coming soon.
Thanks for reading,