International Day of the Girl Child | EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after conflict

International Day of the Girl is celebrated each year on October 11. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

The International Day of the Girl was set up by the United Nations in 2011, it’s mission statement reads:

“The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights,” the UN’s mission statement reads.

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The day is used by the United Nations to rally people behind the cause of empowering girls worldwide so that they can have better education, better survival rates, better protection from child marriage and sexual assault and better health services.

With 1.1 billion girls in the world, the UN strives to help girls that face disadvantage and discrimination on a daily basis and want to highlight the struggle facing those living through crises.

This year the theme of the International Day of the Girl is ‘EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict’.

“Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking.

READ ALSO: Security Officials Allegedly Sexually Exploiting Women And Girls Displaced By Boko Haram In The North East

Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 per cent more likely to be out of school when compared to girls in conflict-free countries, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence as adults,” the UN said.

The day isn’t just about raising awareness it is also about collecting data about girls who have slipped through the cracks, so we can have a better idea about how they live and what they need.

Child marriage is one of the most pressing issues facing the girl worldwide as an estimated one in three girls are married before they are 18, one in seven before they turn 15. There are 700 million women alive today who were married before 18 to men much older than themselves.

“Education for girls is one of the best strategies for protecting girls against child marriage”,

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day.

“When they are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, girls can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families”.

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Female genital mutilation is another problem that UNICEF estimates has affected 130 million girls worldwide. Despite a law banning the practice in 2015, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still widespread in Nigeria, with young girls who have reached puberty being cut behind closed doors, especially in rural areas.

“Every five minutes, a woman or girl is being mutilated,”

says Aderibigbe Costly Abosede, director of the Value Female Network.

Sexual assault is another issue tackled by International Day of the Girl as up to 50% of all sexual assaults target girls under 16-years-old.

READ ALSO: Read Emir Of Kano, Muhammadu’s Sanusi’s Statement On Child Marriage

The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara in a statement to commemorate this day, lamented about the statistics from UNICEF and UNESCO that show that 50% of all sexual assaults are targeted at girls below 16, girls account for 80% of the 800,000 people trafficked annually.

“The news is replete with stories of assaulted children and we must demonstrate that such acts of evil will not be condoned by applying stiff penalties.

In light of the many challenges faced by girls in Nigeria, it is important for more states to adopt the Child Rights Act. Where this has already been done, full implementation and enforcement are necessary”, Dogara urged.

All these are issues that affect the girl child in Nigeria on a daily basis. We hope to live in a world where the girl child would live in safety, fulfill her potential and not be discriminated on because on her gender.

Use the hashtag #DayOfTheGirl to unite yourself with others engaging in the conversation or visit DayOfTheGirl.org. You can organise and hold events for the day that will help raise awareness and support the empowerment of girls worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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