Globally, 1 in 4 girls that are between 15-19 years of age is neither employed, receiving education or training. This figure can only be compared to 1 in 10 boys of the same age. Projections suggest that by 2021, about 435 million women and girls will be surviving on less than $1.90 daily, while 47 million of them will as a result of COVID-19, be pushed into poverty. Also, 1 in 3 women in the world has been exposed to physical or sexual abuse. Further, not less than 60% of countries still discriminate against the right of daughters to inherit lands and non-land assets due to traditions, laws, or by practice.
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It is against the backdrop of maltreatment faced by women that led to the convergence of 30,000 women from close to 200 countries in Beijing, China in 1995, on the occasion of the Fourth World Conference on Women, determined to see to the recognition of women’s right as human rights. This gathering would go on to see the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: the most successful movement towards the promotion of the rights of not just women, but girls also. It was the first platform where the rights of girls were specifically mentioned. To foster global efforts and actions towards promoting the rights of women, and in recognition of the unique challenges faced by girls throughout the globe, the United Nations General Assembly on December 19, 2011, adopted the Resolution 66/170 which declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child.
Also known as the Day of Girls and the International Day of the Girl, it is a great platform to support movements aimed at more opportunities for girls, and raise awareness regarding the issue of gender inequality which is faced by women in every part of the globe due to their gender, ranging from limited or no access to formal education, voting or politics, medical care, legal rights, nutrition, violence or abuse of women and forced marriages, and lack of protection from discrimination. It is also a day to reflect on the successful emergence and participation of girls and young women in global development policy, campaigning, programming, and research.
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Today, October 11, 2020, the observation of the International Day of the Girl Child, commemorates the 1995 Beijing Conference and is accompanied by the theme “My voice, our equal future.” This year’s celebration is an opportunity to re-imagine a greater world which is inspired by girls of adolescent age that are energized, recognized, determined, and can be invested in the project of building a better world. While adolescent girls move towards asserting their power as change-makers, the 2020 observation of the International Day of the Girl Child is highly focused on meeting their demands to:
- Live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS
- Learn new skills towards the futures they choose
- Lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change
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