GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable
Nearly 25 years ago, some 30,000 women and men from nearly 200 countries arrived in Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference on Women, determined to recognize the rights of women and girls as human rights. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: the most comprehensive policy agenda for the empowerment of women.
In the years following, women pressed this agenda forward, leading global movements on issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights to equal pay.
Today, these movements have expanded. They are being organized by and for adolescent girls, and tackling issues like child marriage, education inequality, gender-based violence, climate change, self-esteem, and girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation. Girls are proving they are unscripted and unstoppable.
“Because I was brave enough to convince my parents to let me go to school instead of getting married, I’m able to do what I love the most – study!”
Every year on 11 October, the International Day of the Girl, UNICEF works with girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights. This year, under the theme, “GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable”, we will celebrate achievements by, with and for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
In nearly 25 years, we have seen more girls move from dreaming to achieving. More girls today 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 marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.
A platform for action
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls. Now, nearly 25 years later, the Platform for Action remains a powerful foundation for assessing progress on gender equality. It calls for a world where every girl and woman can realize all her rights, such as to live free from violence, to attend and complete school, to choose when and whom she marries, and to earn equal pay for equal work.
The Platform for Action specifically calls on the global community to:
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls.
- Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls.
- Promote and protect the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potential.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition.
- Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect young girls at work.
- Eradicate violence against girls.
- Promote girls’ awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.
- Strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of girls.
The International Day of the Girl 2019 is a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to mark progress on the Beijing Declaration, and to equip girls with the power, knowledge and space to continue to voice their passions and concerns.
The progress since the Beijing Declaration is remarkable, but girls around the world – especially those living in rural areas or humanitarian settings and those with disabilities – still need us to stand with them to achieve their full potential.
As we come together to celebrate our progress, let’s work to reinforce girls’ rights to a safe childhood, to decide for themselves, and to education and skills – in short, their right to the future they want.
"Whatever life you choose, it’s up to you and it depends on your interests. Share your ideas. Get support from your peers, teachers and families. Get things done. Nobody can stop you if you believe in what you do and follow your dream."