Nearly 10m girls are at risk of child marriage, UN warns

Pride child marriage
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AMMAN — The world observed the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, a day that brings to the fore issues of importance to girls, wishes to raise awareness among governments, policy makers, and the general public, and that gives the girls the opportunity to make their voices heard, Al-Rai daily reported.اضافة اعلان

The occasion may be marking the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child, but progress in girls’ rights remain limited, and girls continue to face countless challenges to realizing their potential, challenges that have been exacerbated by simultaneous crises: climate change, the corona pandemic and humanitarian conflicts, which put some 10 million girls at risk of child marriage.

According to the UN, girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges in their pursuit of education, physical and mental health and wellbeing, and protection needed to lead a life free from violence.

The pandemic has exacerbated the burdens on girls worldwide, and undid important gains made over the past decade.

Up to 10 million girls are at risk of child marriage. The profound effects of the pandemic increased this risk: economic shocks, school closures and the disruption of reproductive health services, the UN warned.

Nearly half of primary schools in the least developed countries lack separate bathrooms for each gender — an important factor in encouraging girls to attend school — and a third of the schools lack electricity.

The UN indicates that girls are prime victims of sexual exploitation (72 percent of the detected victims) while boys are predominantly subjected to forced labor (66 percent of the detected victims).

The gap between the world’s Internet users increased from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019, with the widest gap in the world’s least developed countries, at 43 percent.

Globally, the proportion of female STEM graduates is 15 percent lower in more than two-thirds of countries.

As such, it is essential to engage government officials, policy makers and stakeholders, and convince them to make meaningful investments that address the inequality experienced by girls, particularly when it comes to accessing mental health and psychosocial support services, in the face of conflict, forced migration, natural disasters and the effects of climate change.

In 1995, the World Conference on Women was held in the Chinese capital, Beijing, and countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which is the most advanced plan ever to advance the rights of women and girls. This declaration was the first international instrument to specifically defend the rights of girls.

On December 19, 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 proclaiming October 11 each year as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize the rights of girls and the unique challenges that girls face worldwide.

The day aims to focus attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and their human rights.

Adolescent girls, the UN says, have the right to a secure life, education and health, not only during these crucial formative years of their life, but also as they mature into women. If supported effectively during the teenage years, girls have the power to change the world, and become workers, mothers, businesswomen, mentors, heads of families, and political leaders.

“Investing in the power and rights of adolescent girls today will yield a more just and prosperous future, as half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention and global sustainability,” the UN said.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (as adopted in General Assembly Resolution 70/1) — and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in 2015 — contain a roadmap for achieving sustainable progress that is inclusive.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women are integral parts of each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“By ensuring the rights of women and girls in each of the goals, we can achieve justice and inclusion, build economies that work for all, and preserve the common environment for us and future generations,” the UN said.

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