Celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child

A girl child can be all she wants to be

October 11th is recognised annually as the International Day of the Girl. As the United Nations and other organisations work to reduce the gap between the male and female gender, the African Youth Corner is also making efforts to ensure that girls have access to their rights and other basic social amenities.

What rights are girls deprived of?

Girls are particularly vulnerable and so need more protection. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, sets forth the basic human rights of children, usually those under 18 years of age. These rights include nondiscrimination; the right to survival and development of potential; protection from harmful influences, abuses and exploitation; and full participation in family, cultural and social life. The convention also spells out some human rights violations that are unique to the girl child, including discrimination based upon sex, prenatal sex selection, female genital mutilation and early marriage.

Certain cultures and societies promote the subjugation of women and girls. They are not seen as equal to their male counterpart and as such they lawfully suffer victimization.

According to part of the book Women in the World Today, published by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, “Discrimination and harmful practices against the girl child vary depending upon cultural context. For instance, intentional abortion of female fetuses and female infanticide are common practices in East and South Asian countries where sons are strongly preferred. India and China have a significant sex-ratio imbalance in their populations as a result of these practices, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA, 2005). In India such practices are reinforced by the perception that daughters are an economic burden on the family. They do not significantly contribute to the family income and large dowries may be expected by in-laws when the girl marries. In China, sex selectivity and abandonment of infant girls have increased dramatically since the enactment of the one-child policy in 1989. Prenatal sex selection is more common where modern medical technology is readily accessible and open to misuse. According to the UNFPA 2004 report, sex-selective abortion and female infanticide have resulted in at least 60 million “missing” girls in Asia. The shortage of females in some Asian countries has led to other problems, such as increased trafficking in women for marriage and sex work.”

Cross section of girls in a class during Project ROSS

As we mark another International Day of the Girl Child, we wish to call on all stakeholders, civil society groups, NGOs, government of Nations, and the entire population to join in the advocacy to give the girl child her complete right. Let us make the world safe for girls. Let girls have access to quality education. Let female genital mutilation and rape end. Let girls take up initiatives and have the support of society.

A girl can be all she wants to be!

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