October 11th 2016 is International Day of the Girl Child, a day designated by the United Nations for recognising “girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”
This year, the theme for International Day of the Girl Child is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls,” in line with the Global Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality, and the need for collecting and analysing more data that focuses on girls and the issues they face.
While we can applaud the ambition and potential of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] for girls, and recognize how girls’ progress is good not only for girls, but also for families, communities and society at large, we must also take this opportunity to consider how existing gaps in data on girls and young women, lack of systematic analysis, and limited use of existing data significantly limit our ability to monitor and communicate the wellbeing and progress of half of humanity.
Much more can and needs to be done to harness the data required to ensure programs, policies and services effectively respond to the specific needs of girls. When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights – in times of peace and crisis – we empower them to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities.
A major issue affecting many girls around the world, and that UN Women is bringing attention to, is Child Marriage.
The data is daunting—one in three girls in developing countries (except China) get married before they turn 18. Girls who are child brides miss out on education, are more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, and bear children before they are physically or emotionally prepared. The cycle of violence that begins in girlhood, carries over into womanhood and across generations. The 2030 Agenda must address their needs and unlock their potential.
For more facts and personal stories about the issue of Child Marriage, as well as plenty of other stories about girls around the world and their challenges and successes, head to UN Women’s International Day of the Girl Child page. More information about International Day of the Girl Child can also be found at www.un.org/en/events/girlchild.