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First International Day of the Girl Child

A platform for sustained action and commitment to empower girls

11 October 2012 - On the first International Day of the Girl Child, UNICEF and partners are highlighting joint efforts to end child marriage – a fundamental human rights violation that impacts all aspects of a girl’s life. The International Day of the Girl Child reflects the need to put girls’ rights at the center of development and the need to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. 

Promoting girls’ rights helps reducing their risks of violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, and maternal death and disability and enables girls to stay in school which builds a better foundation for a better life for themselves and their families.

Globally, more than one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15.  Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.

Girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to virtually end a girl’s education. Conversely, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the best strategies for protecting girls and combating child marriage.

In Romania there are more than 2 million girls aged 0-18 years, 51% of them living in urban area. According to data girls are exposed to risks in their lives, affecting their health, education and social protection:

  • In 2010, 27,000 girls gave birth just before the age of 19. “Children with children” are more likely to drop out of school, most of them come from poor families in poor communities, and have scarce access to health and social services for themselves and for their child. Some very young mothers will abandon their babies as they have no one and nowhere to turn to; 
  • According to a UNICEF study, 96% of adolescent girls who are forced into prostitution began their sexual life before reaching 18 of age ;
  • Child marriage is still an issue especially in vulnerable communities and lack of data makes difficult to assess the extent of the problem;
  • Between 1992 and 2010, the number of girls and young women diagnosed with HIV was significantly higher for the age group 15-19 years old.

In Romania, UNICEF is committed to address girls’ vulnerabilities in education, health and child protection by: 

  • Increasing the number of girls receiving prevention services in child protection, with greater emphasis on girls in marginalized areas and groups;
  • Increasing access to basic and specialized services for adolescents girls, with focus on girls and young women living with HIV; 
  • Improving access to good quality primary and secondary education, focusing on vulnerable children at risk of drop out, including girls in child marriages.

Through empowering girls and safeguarding their rights, girls will flourish in a safe and productive environment. Governments, civil society and UN agencies are working together to accelerate action for girls to claim their rights and realize their full potential.

 

 
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