International Day Of the Girl: NPWJ reaffirms its commitment to protect the human rights of girls around the world

11 Oct, 2020 | Press Releases

Today, 11 October 2020, NPWJ Celebrates the International Day of the Girl established by the United Nations in 2011 and urges the international community to ensure women and girls have the same opportunities as men and boys, reaffirming our support of the critical role of women and girls in bringing sustainable peace.

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl is “My Voice, Our Equal Future”, which aims to place the demands of adolescent girls at the heart of the debate. We must be inspired by what they believe is the change they need and by the solutions they demand around the world. This theme also seeks to celebrate the empowerment of their voices, as illustrated by their social activism and their achievements. Adolescent girls around the world are demonstrating their power to mobilise and lead for the protection of their human rights. NPWJ recognises the unique resilience of adolescent girls around the world in facing and addressing today’s struggles and in accelerating social change. The international community must listen to their voices with great attention and address their demands properly.

While we celebrate 30thanniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 25thanniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women and the 40thyear of implementing the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, many of these commitments are, to this day, left unfulfilled and insufficient. Despite the steps forward and the progress made for the human rights of girls, they still face tremendous hurdles to prosperity and regularly face severe violations of their rights. Too often they are victims of sexual abuse, exploitation and so-called traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced and early marriage, and too often denied their right to health, safety and education. They are also subject to gendered expectations of their roles in society as well as ingrained cultural bias, which lead to fewer opportunities for employment outside of the unregulated or unpaid economy.

We take this opportunity to express our concerns, during these challenging times of COVID-19, for the well-being of adolescent girls around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous on children worldwide and notably girls in vulnerable communities. The pandemic has had grave consequences on their human rights and exacerbated social and institutional inequities. The dangerous consequences of this pandemic for girls are multiple, including a high drop-out rate, limited access to humanitarian needs and a staggering increase in sexual and gender-based violence and forced marriages. The economic burden caused by the pandemic is critical for families around the world, thus some parents are willing to accept marriage proposals in order to face the economic hurdles of the pandemic. The United Nations has predicted that the pandemic could lead to an additional 13 million child marriages over the next decade. Despite the progress of the last decade, the pandemic is putting our victories to the test, we must uphold our commitment to the protection of girls worldwide especially in the light of this health crisis.

Today we underscore our commitment not only to protect the rights of all girls, and do whatever we can to build an inclusive, safe world, but urge all states to act on their political commitments to provide opportunities for girls’ meaningful participation in the economy, in their communities and in decisions affecting their lives. The international community must take heed of the growing impact of the pandemic on girls around the world and the unique challenges that they face during these difficult times. We call on governments to ensure their protection and well-being at all times, but especially now, when their rights are most at risk.