Photo credit: Arina Bzhinaev
The fundamental rights of young girls are seriously threatened by the economic and social consequences of the HIV pandemic and by the economic, political and climatic crises that continue to multiply. Given the urgency of the situation, Action Education is sounding the alarm and sees access to education for all as a massive weapon to guarantee girls' fundamental rights.
"Never forget that all it takes is one crisis political, economic or religious to ensure that the rights of women be questioned".
As we celebrate today the 10th anniversary of theème he International Day for Girls' Rights is a sad reminder of the accuracy of Simone de Beauvoir's words. Explosion of early marriages and pregnancies, increase of violence, deprivation of access to health care and education, limitation of their sexual and reproductive rights: the situation of young girls in the world has probably never been so dramatic.
- March 2020, 767 million girls have been denied an education. Nearly 11 million are still missing.
- More than half of girls who are not in school ( 54%) are now living in countries in crisis.
- 10 million more girls at risk of being married in their childhood due to COVID-19, while before the pandemic more than 100 million girls were already at risk of child marriage in the next decade, despite a significant decline in the practice in several countries in recent years.
- The early pregnancies among 12-18 year olds has explodedThis is particularly true of the African continent: +60 % in South Africa; +66 % in Zimbabwe; +40 % in Kenya.
- More than 1.2 billion girls and women between 15 and 59 years old live today in countries or regions where access to abortion is restricted, 102 million in countries where abortion is prohibited.
- In the least developed countries, the birth rate for teenagers is 94 per 1000This is double the world average of 42 per 1000.
- 1 in 10 girls/women between 15 and 49 years old is now a victim of violence sexual and physical of his partner.
An undeniable regression of fundamental rights
Behind this undeniable regression of the fundamental rights of the girls, are hidden thehe Covid-19 pandemic, of course, and its social restriction measures which, for months, deprived young girls of access to education and care, and exposed them to all kinds of violence, moral and physical, without any possibility of recourse to assistance. But in recent months, the economic, political and environmental crises have continued to multiply and have particularly affected young girls. Conflicts and climatic disasters have led to significant population displacements _ 44 million girls and women are currently displacedThe war in Ukraine and soaring inflation have made girls increasingly vulnerable to inequality and poverty, and have made them the first victims of food insecurity. The war in Ukraine and soaring inflation now confront young girls with even more inequality and poverty. To date, more than 938 million girls and women live on less than USD 3.20 a day. At the current rate, if nothing changes, the number of women living in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, will be greater in 2030 than today. If nothing changes, warn UN WomenGender parity will not be achieved for almost three centuries.
Education as a vehicle for progress and gender equality
For millions of young girls around the world, the loss of their fundamental rights is not inevitable. Progress, some of it significant, had been achieved during the previous decades without really reversing the established order. A succession of crises was therefore enough to sweep away the progress made in favour of gender equality and allow patriarchy to brutally re-impose its authority and its very Manichean vision of the world. Yet governments, especially those that have been working for years in favour of gender equality, know very well how to act in order to to ensure that the fundamental rights of girls are respected: it is now more than urgent to guarantee women equal access to education, employment and decision-making positions. For Action Education, snly access to quality education will enable young girls to acquire the skills and knowledge essential to their lives as adults and citizens, to build their critical thinking skills, to be aware of their rights, and to have the necessary confidence to defend them. Moreover, it will enable them to occupy positions of power and decision making, which will allow them to reverse the power relations that have prevailed in our societies for centuries.
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