The ironical International Day of Girl Child

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The United Nations (UN) had chosen child marriage as the theme for the “International Day of the Girl Child” and different activities had been planned around the world including Pakistan to highlight the urgent need to address the practice that robs 10 million girls a year of their childhood.
However, in Pakistan, the focus will largely remain centred on Malala Yousafzai, who was shot at on Tuesday.
Malala Yousafzai came to public attention in 2009 by writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban militants who had taken control of the valley. The group captured the Swat Valley in late 2007 and remained in de facto control until they were driven out by Pakistani military forces during an offensive in 2009.
While in power they closed girls’ schools, promulgated Islamic law and introduced measures such as banning the playing of music in cars. Malala Yousafzai’s brother, Mubashir Hussain, said that the militants were “cruel, brutal people” and urged all Pakistanis to condemn them.
Apart from vigils to protest against the attack on Malala, various other protests and a rallies will be held all over the country as part of the on going activities in regard to the day.
“Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriages,” said the United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin.
The International Day of the Girl Child had been recognised by the UN as a day to promote the rights of girls and to address the unique challenges being faced by them.
Child brides would usually drop out of school, and were more likely to die or suffer injury during childbirth and were more vulnerable to domestic abuse than unmarried girls of the same age.
Various human rights groups and organizations in Pakistan called for urgent action to address child marriage in Pakistan where 24 percent of girls were married off before they turned 18.
They had asked the government to review the Child Marriage Restraint Act and had urged the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to join hands to bring behavioural change in the community in relation to Early Girl Marriages (EGM).
Many have asked why we need a day that focuses just on girls – we already have an International Women’s Day, a strong feminist movement, and countless policies and programs designed to fight gender inequality?
The reality is that the world is only now starting to realise that tens of millions of girls face daily discrimination, poverty and violence, simply because they were born female.
Girls have been explicitly mentioned in annual themes for International Women’s Day just three times in the past 100 years. The combination of their gender and age renders them almost invisible.
Girls are especially vulnerable due to their age and often complete lack of power or control over their lives. This means a different, and perhaps more urgent, response is required if we are to harness their potential to create a better life for themselves and their children, a more prosperous, peaceful community and a healthier workforce.
That’s why Plan International lobbied the UN to declare October 11 the International Day of the Girl Child.
Of course, girls and boys have the same entitlements to human rights, but they face different challenges in accessing them – girls are less likely to complete school, have less opportunity for meaningful work, are more likely to be living with HIV and AIDS, and are more likely to experience rape or other forms of sexual violence.
Each year, more than 10 million girls are forced to marry as children, which usually means an end to their education, and a life of ill-health and poverty.
Dealing with the specific needs and rights of girls is key to breaking cycles of poverty with benefits for everyone – boys and girls, men and women. For example, as a country’s primary school enrolment rate for girls increases, so does its gross domestic product per head.
In fact, education is one of the best ways to help girls to move from poverty to opportunity. An educated girl will be more likely to marry later in life and have fewer, healthier children, who will be three to 10 times more likely to survive.
As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, the world will be debating what should be included in the new road map for global development and sustainability.
There is no better place to start than making quality education for girls an urgent priority.

2 COMMENTS

  1. malala u r rock i will definitely support u aap ke isnek kam me khuda bhi aap ke sath hai isliye uhone aap ko nai jindagi di me dua karti hu aap jalsejal thik hojaye aur naye josh ke sath is julum ke khilaf aavaj uthaye get well soon

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