On International Day of the Girl we Celebrate Girls' Right to Education
In 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, more than 30,000 women from 200 countries, gathered, determined to recognise the rights of women and girls as human rights. Two weeks of political debate followed and by the time the conference closed, it had produced the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls. And today, almost twenty-five years on, the Platform for Action remains a powerful foundation for assessing progress on gender equality.
The Platform for Action imagines a world where each woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realise all her rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for equal work.
Today, girls’ movements across the globe are stopping child marriage, promoting girls’ education, standing up against gender-based violence, demanding action on climate change, tackling issues of self- esteem, and standing up for girls’ rights to enter temples or public spaces during menstruation. Girls are also engaging with municipalities to advocate for financial investments in their communities and for truly inclusive development that recognise their needs.
On this International Day of the Girl, we must celebrate this progress. More girls are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children, and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world of work. Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalised communities.
This progress is undeniably remarkable, however, we cannot ignore the fact that still millions of girls around the world— especially those living in rural areas or humanitarian settings and those with disabilities — are being left behind:
Globally, 64 million girls aged 5 to 14 are still out of school due to poverty, gender norms, and lack of schools and learning resources. (1)
Girls aged 5 to 14 spend more than 160 million hours or more on housework and chores such as cooking, cleaning and care-taking than boys their age. (2)
Globally, one in five girls are married before age 18. (3)
One in ten girls in Africa will miss school when they have their periods. (4)
25 million children worldwide are missing school because of wars and conflicts across 22 countries and 55% of them are girls and young women. (5)
Educating girls has enormous and far-reaching benefits. It reduces rates of child marriage, promotes healthier and smaller families, improves wages and jobs for women, and empowers women to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives. In conflict situations education serves to promote peace and stability.
Education – especially of women and girls – has the power to transform lives and lift households, communities and nations out of poverty. That is why Street Child’s works across 12 countries to ensure that girls have their right to an education recognised and feel empowered to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives.
This International Day of the Girl we are calling on the public to help us close the gap between the world’s most marginalised girls - especially those living in rural areas, humanitarian settings and those with disabilities - and the rest, ensuring that they no longer get left behind.
Thanks to the UK government all public donations made before 4th January 2020 to Street Child’s ‘Mind The Gap’ appeal will be doubled, meaning a donation of just £15 is enough cover the school fees, uniform and learning materials for a girl. Together we can help more girls into education.
For more information and to donate to Street Child’s ‘Mind The Gap’ appeal, please visit:www.street-child.co.uk/mind-the-gap
Out-of-school rates and numbers by SDG region, 2018, UNESCO Institute for Statistics database: http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/new-methodology-shows-258-million-children-adolescents-and-youth-are-out-school.pdf
Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030, 2016, UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/gender/
Puberty education & menstrual hygiene management, UNESCO: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002267/226792e.pdf