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The world is close to reaching a historic milestone in girls’ rights as the UN General Assembly considers designating October 11 as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, says child rights organisation Plan International.
In order to highlight the unique challenges and issues faced by girls in developing countries, Plan has led the call for this world day as part of its ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign. The call was first raised by girls themselves at a UN gender summit in 2009 as a crucial recognition of their rights. Since then girls have lobbied for this day, with the support and guidance of Plan.
The campaign has won backing from governments across the world. The Canadian Government is leading the resolution at the UN and over 100 member nations have already pledged their support.
The resolution was adopted by consensus at the Third Committee of the General Assembly and will go to the full Assembly for adoption the week of December 19th.
“The International Day of the Girl Child puts a special focus on the needs of girls throughout the world. We know that in many countries girls get left behind in all areas of life from school to work and in the worst cases aren’t even allowed to be born”, said Plan International CEO Nigel Chapman.
Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been a long standing supporter of an international day dedicated to girls. She said it would help bring to light the issues of girls before governments, media and educational institutions. “Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues.”
Research has shown that simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. In the poorest societies, a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger and disease compared to her brothers. She will have fewer opportunities for an education and career. In many developing countries 1 out of 7 girls marries before age 15, resulting in them having to drop out of school before they have a chance to receive the education they deserve.
Deepali Sood, Director of Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign said: “Women's empowerment begins with girls' empowerment. Breaking the cycle of gender discrimination requires that we promote and protect the rights of girls. At the same time we also need to equip them with the skills and opportunities they need to transform their lives and those of their communities.”
Plan’s study, ‘The State of the World's Girls 2009: Girls in the global economy’ shows that investing in girls and young women has a disproportionately beneficial effect in alleviating poverty - not only for girls but for their families, communities and entire countries. Girls who spend an extra year at school will on average increase their lifetime income by 10 to 20%.
- Plan International is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world with programmes in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas. The organisation works with more than 58,000 communities, covering a population of 56 million children.
- The ‘Because I am a Girl campaign’ (BIAAG) is Plan’s campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls out of poverty. The campaign is dedicated to building the human capital of girls through knowledge and skills, aiming to equip, enable and engage girls of all ages to acquire the assets, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life.
- Across the world, girls face double discrimination due to their gender and age, leaving them at the bottom of the social ladder. Research has shown that girls are more likely to suffer from malnutrition; be forced into an early marriage; be subject to violence or intimidation; be trafficked, sold or coerced into the sex trade; or become infected with HIV.
- Plan is producing one girl report each year in the run up to 2015, the target year for the Millennium Development Goals. Each report provides tangible proof of the inequalities that still exist between boys and girls.
Press Officer (International Headquarters, UK)