By Hannah Ondiek,

 FEMNET is pleased to be part of the voices celebrating the first United Nations observance of the International Day of the Girl Child, 11th October 2012 themed Ending Child Marriage. The United Nations General Assembly designated 11th October as the International Day of the Girl Child through the Resolution A/RES/66/170. UN Women is among the many organizations, initiatives and campaigns all around the world that have pledged to support and promote girls’ human rights.

The FEMNET Gender Policy refers to young women as ‘The successor generation of women leaders’. This signifies the importance of nurturing and empowering the girl child.

Across the world while a girl is learning in class, a young bride is learning to take care of her family, while a girl is catching up with school work and gaining knowledge and ideas for the future, another girl is catching up with house work as part of their daily routine, while a young girl is gaining experience on life through education another girl is going through Female Genital Mutilation – FGM, which (according to WHO) involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons to ‘make her a woman.’

© CARE International: 22 year old with 10 year old wife

Girl child Facts and Figures

Marriage:

  • Every 3 seconds, a girl is forced or coerced to marry
  • Every year, 10 million girls are forced or coerced into marriage
  • 1 in 3 girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18
  • 1 in 7 girls marries before they reach the age of 15

Education:

  • 75 million girls around the world are out of school
  • 1 in 3 girls is denied a secondary education
  • Girls’ primary school completion rates are below 50% in most poor countries
  •  while about 41% of girl’s transition to secondary school education, only 3% complete the cycle

FGM:

  • About 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15
  • In Africa an estimated 92 million girls above the age of 10 have undergone FGM

Sexual Health and Violence:

  • 150 million girls under 18 have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence
  • leading cause of death for young women aged 15-19 years in developing countries is pregnancy

Solutions to consider

An extra year of secondary school increases a girl’s potential income by 15 – 25%, every extra year in a mothers schooling cuts infant mortality by between 5 – 10%, an increase of only 1% in girl’s secondary education attendance adds 0.3% to a country’s GDP (Plan International). Girl child education needs to be supported and financed in Africa!

We can also take action is against violations of the Girl Childs rights! You can make you voice heard by joining initiatives for instance the EQUALITY NOW Initiative in Egypt to stop the lowering of the minimum age of marriage for girls.

Changing the situation for the girl child not only improves her life but the whole nation and future generations to come.

What future are we creating for the girl child in Africa? Join the voices celebrating the Day of the Girl Child to End Child Marriage!

For more information on Child Marriages and initiatives to prevent this, go to;

Girls Not Brides

Every Mother Counts

Care International

Let’s continue this conversation. Connect with FEMNET @femnetprog or on facebook.

Hannah Ondiek is the Communication Intern at FEMNET. You can connect with her on twitter @hannahadoyo and hannahondeik@gmail.com  

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