GCE Statement on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.

GCE Statement on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.

My voice, our equal future

On the International Day of the Girl Child, the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) unites our voice to demand equality for girls and the recognition of their dignity and their contribution to the creation of a global citizenship that leaves no one behind.

While GCE recognizes that human rights still have a long way to go, this day should call us to raise awareness about critical issues for girls and young women’s rights and encouraging their active participation and leadership in education and daily life.

For instance, girls with disabilities as well as migrant and refugee girls face many forms of discrimination in their host countries, due to their ethnic origin, nationality or religion and therefore it is necessary to deepen human rights approaches in education systems and in public policies in general, to remove all forms of discrimination against girls.

Girls’ right to education cannot be addressed in isolation from gender issues; and these issues certainly not only affect girls and women’s rights but also impose the need to envisage a new form of masculinity that is more sensitive, responsible and proactive towards equality, justice and solidarity.

This is only possible if states adopt sexual and reproductive health programs aimed at stopping early marriage and pregnancy, accompanied by a legal framework of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation, wherever this terrible inhumane practice exists. Comprehensive sexuality education programs are also crucial to stopping sexual and gender-based violence and scientifically and objectively addressing the cognitive, psychological, physical, and social aspects of sexuality.

The GCE calls governments for strengthening girls’ education during the pandemic, as studies show that violence against children has increased dramatically with lock-down and, in many places, health facilities are closing or limiting services for girls. As the UN has warned, women are refraining from visiting health facilities due to movement restrictions or fears about COVID-19 exposure. Furthermore, studies show that school closings can exacerbate child labour and place many of the household responsibilities on girls, such as caring for family members and housework, further distancing them from learning opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only left most children and young people out of school but has also prevented millions of girls from accessing virtual education, so they run the risk of never returning to school.

According to UNESCO, internet penetration rates continue to be higher for men than for women in all regions of the world, leaving girls at the rear of education opportunities. To reverse this trend, adequate funding is required to respond to the educational needs of girls, along with the establishment of affirmative actions that facilitate their access to education technology.

The Global Campaign for Education GCE recognizes and supports female youth advocates in their role and efforts to build an inclusive world and celebrates International Girl Child Day as a way to pay tribute to their contribution.

The GCE calls on its member organizations and partners, to demand the strengthening of gender perspectives in education and in public policies in general and to fight for the empowerment of girls and women until the discrimination and violence they suffer becomes a history from which no one wants to return.