International Day of the Girl Child

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Girls are our future. This year, for the fourth annual International Day of the Girl Child, on 11 October, join global efforts to ensure a world free of discrimination for young women and girls.

This year’s theme focuses on adolescent girls and the Sustainable Development Goals, which set a range of international targets, including on gender equality, to be achieved by 2030.

As a particularly vulnerable demographic, adolescent girls face social, economic and political barriers. While they hold the potential to become leaders and effect change, their empowerment can be hindered by factors such as unwanted pregnancy, forced early marriage, gender-based violence and limited access to higher education and reproductive health services.

In numbers

  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women were married as children (below 18 years of age). More than one in three—or some 250 million—were married before 15. And child brides are often unable to effectively negotiate safe sex, leaving them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy [1].
  • Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, anadolescent girl dies as a result of violence [2].
  • In emergencies, adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence, and in some cases, are abducted and exploited for sexual purposes by armed groups [3].
  • Nearly half (44 per cent) of adolescent girls worldwide aged 15 to 19 think a husband or partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife or partner under certain circumstances [4].

Messages

In his statement to mark this year’s international day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes: “Our task now is to get to work on meeting the SDG targets and making good on our promises to give girls all the opportunities they deserve as they mature to adulthood by 2030.” Read his full statement here.

In her statement to mark this year’s international day, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka notes: “Today is the Day when we focus our attention on the Girl Child, but it is not a day in isolation. It is part of a massive and relentless drive towards a world of equality: a Planet 50-50 by 2030.” Read her full statement here.