The 11th of October 2014 was the International Day of the Girl Child. The theme this year is ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence’. Different types of violence affect adolescent girls, whether it’s physical, sexual or emotional violence, it must be brought to an end. Violence against girls not only damages their health, but hinders the development of communities as well. For these reasons, it is most important that these girls are empowered and allowed the rights that they should be protected by.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, state that girls are to be protected from all forms of violence and discrimination, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Around the world, an effort must be made to bring this violence to an end and to empower these girls who have suffered from this violence.
In order to end this violence and empower adolescent girls, action must be taken by everyone: governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, communities and individuals.
By recognizing the Day of the Girl, it provides a way to get the public to become aware of these cycles of violence against adolescent girls and what can be done about it.
The objectives for the day are to:
• Make the hidden violence visible to people.
• Promote the key asks (See below)
• Give UNICEF and others the tools they need to bring this to an end
The key asks for the day are:
• Inform and educate people in order to show that any form of violence is unacceptable.
• To invest in adolescent girls through school, health and social economic and support systems.
• To create infrastructure, services, and technology accessible to girls.
• To advance research into successful initiatives for dealing with this violence.
• To address violence against adolescent girls in emergencies.
Globally, UNICEF found that adolescent girls encounter physical, sexual, emotional and psychological aggression in striking proportions. There are many different places that they experience violence- at school, at home, in their communities and online. While this is challenging enough for girls under normal circumstances, this violence is made even worse if there is a natural disaster or conflict going on already within their communities.
Statistically, violence is prevalent in adolescent girls and is often perpetrated by those who are closest to them. When an adolescent girl experiences violence, her choices and opportunities can be limited and in many cases eliminated. This can last throughout her life and carry on to future generations. Because of gender inequality, violence against girls can be common, frequent and tolerated. Girls must be empowered with the knowledge, skills and resources they need in order to end this cycle of violence. We must make sure that the environment in which girls live in is safe and supportive and gives them the opportunities to thrive.
When violence occurs it is essentially taking away basic human rights, which will have a very serious impact for the future. In order to bring this to an end we must all try and do what we can in order to allow these girls their rights and to have a happy childhood.
Written by: Ciaran Gormley, age 16.