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·  Resolution 13/31



He Has the Whole
World in His Hands:

By Anne Mimi Sammis

51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

“The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”

Status of the Girl Child: 

“The girl-child is discriminated against from the earliest stages of life, through her childhood and into adulthood.  In some areas of the world, men outnumber women by 5 in every 100.  The reasons for this discrepancy include harmful attitudes and practices, such as female genital mutilation, son preference – which results in female infanticide and prenatal sex selection – early marriage,…violence against women, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, discrimination against girls in food allocation, and other practices related to health and well-being.  As a result, fewer girls than boys survive into adulthood.” 

-  Beijing Platform for Action, paragraph 259

Statistics on the Girl Child: 

• 3 million girls undergo female genital mutilation each year
• Nearly 60% of the 130 million primary school aged children not enrolled are in school in girls
• 1.2 million girls are trafficked each year
• 15 million girls 15-19 give birth each year
• Of the 500, 000 child-birth related deaths each year, nearly ¼ of those deaths are teenage mothers
• Girls (15-24) account for 76% of young people living with HIV
• Girls face particular issues as refugees and displaced people including:  sexual violence, forced marriage, forced impregnation, lack of access to education, increased risk of HIV/AIDS, and economic exploitation. 
• Child marriage affects millions of girls.  In S. Asia 48% of girls are married before 18, 42% in Africa, and 29% in Latin America.  It is not uncommon for girls to be married by the age of 15 or younger.  Child marriage increases the girl’s risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and chances suffering from pregnancy related complications, including obstetric fistula.  It also decreases their access to education. 

Significance of Discrimination against the Girl Child: 

“Short-changing girls is not only a matter of gender discrimination; it is bad economics and bad social policy.  Experience has shown, over and over again, that investments in girls’ education translate directly and quickly into better nutrition for the whole family, better health care, declining fertility, poverty reduction and better overall economic performance.” 

- Millennium Report

Existing Protections: 

•  Convention on the Rights of the Child
•  Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women

Take Action: 

•  Inform yourself of the rights and current conditions of the girl child
•  Raise awareness in your community about the discrimination & violence face by girls
•  Urge the US government to ratify CEDAW
•  Support organizations doing advocacy for the rights of girls including:  
      •  The Working Group on Girls
      •  UNICEF
      •  Human Rights Watch
•  Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network
•  Support the work of Episcopal Relief and Development

•  UNICEF – Voices of Youth – Take Action
•  UN Resources on the Girl Child
•  UN Population Fund
•  Child Rights Information Network

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