First International Girl Child Day

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First International Girl Child Day

Madrid, 11th October, 2012. The Mujeres por África Foundation welcomes the first International Day of the Girl Child, established by United Nations, which is held on 11th October and which this year focuses on preventing child marriage.
We are joining in this celebration since we understand that girls are the future and yet they are in a situation of discrimination for being female and for their age, making them especially vulnerable in many countries.

The creation of this Day was promoted by the NGO Plan in an international campaign that concluded with the UN following resolution:
Recognizing that empowerment of girls and investment in them, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, and the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of violence and discrimination and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers as well as boys and men and the wider community, ... See resolution

Mujeres por África adheres to the UN Declaration on the International Day of the Girl
International Day of the Girl Child 2012
Joint declaration
Executive Directors of UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women

October 11th marks the beginning of the first International Day of the Girl Child. This day focuses on the need to address the challenges faced by girls, promoting empowerment and seeing that their human rights are observed. The urgent need to promote and protect the girls’ rights is underscored by the recent horrific attack suffered by the 14-year-old-girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was attacked for talking about girls' rights, including their right to education. We join the people and Government of Pakistan and others in our strong condemnation of this attack. We would like to express our utmost support for Malala and all the girls in the world who wish to exercise their rights, to live free from violence and discrimination, and to achieve their full potential.

One of the practices that prevent girls from being equals in society and achieving their potential is child marriage—an issue we have chosen to focus on this year.
Child marriage is a violation of human rights but is quite common in several regions of the world, especially in rural areas and among disadvantaged communities. Between 2002 and 2011, one in three women in the world between 20 and 24 years of age (out of about 70 million) were married before their 18th birthday. The consequences of child marriage are also serious and far-reaching. Girls not only face the risk of rape, physical violence, premature and unwanted pregnancies, but also the risks of pregnancy and childbirth are among the biggest causes of death worldwide in girls aged 15 to 19.

Married girls are also more vulnerable to experience discrimination and violence. Very often they have little or no possibilty to leave their violent partners and find the social and legal support they need to improve their situation.

The collective burdens of domestic work, childcare and family pressure can often hinder child wives’ access to education or end it prematurely. While girls with low levels of education are more likely to marry early, those with a secondary education are six times less likely to marry as children and are more likely to send their own children to school.
Preventing and ending violence against girls and ensuring their education are the best strategies for empowering girls and giving them the opportunity to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.

If we can put an end to child marriage, we can change the lives of girls everywhere. We can help them enjoy their childhood, register them at school and protect them against complicated pregnancies and deliveries. We can keep girls safe. And in doing so, we can help break the cycle of poverty from generation to generation.

We call on governments, organizations in civil society, the private sector, religious groups and the international community to redouble its efforts to:
• Enforce legislation to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 years.
• Improve equal access to primary and secondary education.
• Mobilize girls, boys, parents and leaders to change the rules of gender discrimination and create alternative social, economic and civic opportunities for girls.
• Support married girls by helping them with their options for schooling, sexual and reproductive education, skills and the resources to survive against domestic violence.
• Address the root causes of child marriage.
Anthony Lake. UNICEF Executive Director

Babatunde Osotimehin. UNFPA Executive Director
Michelle Bachelet. Executive Director of UN Women

English version:
International Day of the Girl Child 2012
Joint Statement
Executive Directors of UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women
International Day of the Girl Child 2012

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