“There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not political or religious activists. They are girls.” - 'I am a Girl' film
It is 2015. And this statement is sadly just as true today as it was decades ago.
Of course, we have made progress. In most countries, nearly as many girls are enrolled in primary school as boys. Fewer mothers are dying in childbirth, and legal systems and constitutions are more aware of the rights of women and girls. The issues faced by adolescent girls have gained international attention over the last several years. But the reality is that not a single country in the world can say that it has achieved real gender equality.
the reality is that not a single country in the world can say that it has achieved real gender equality
The Sustainable Development Goals have just been approved in New York by the governments of the world. This is a landmark achievement to be celebrated. But the work is just beginning. The business of gender equality remains unfinished, and we must stop at nothing until we have achieved it.
Making girls’ rights a reality
On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, Plan International United Nations (UN) Office in Geneva came together with UN agencies and governments in Geneva to host a screening of the movie 'I am a Girl'*. This powerful film tells the stories and challenges of 6 girls from around the world and what it is like for them to be a girl in the 21st century. Following the film was an animated discussion about how we can make sure that in 15 years, the stories are different.
As the world’s human rights hub, Geneva has been busy thinking about how we can make the promises of the Global Goals a reality – even before these were officially approved. This event is only one of many in recent months by NGOs, think tanks, academics, governments and UN agencies aimed at finding ways to do so. We’ve been asking ourselves how we can make use of the human rights systems that have been put in place and that are already working quite well. How can we use these systems to keep governments accountable to the commitments they made to the 17 Global Goals?
Many ideas have been floating, but everyone has recognised the importance of making links between the commitments made in the Sustainable Development Goals and those made to the various human rights treaties and conventions. Better coordination is needed between the human rights mechanisms and the High Level Political Forum, the central UN platform for follow-up and review of the Global Goals. Data collected in the context of the human rights reviews of all UN Member States should be harnessed to track progress towards the Goals.
The coming months will be crucial to take this conversation forward and come up with concrete solutions and we, at Plan International, will certainly continue to actively contribute to these discussions.
Gender equality by 2030
One important aspect will be to see how the gender equality promises in the Agenda 2030 are realised. The Global Goals have human rights and gender equality as their core principle. Not only is gender equality enshrined as a standalone goal (Goal 5), but more importantly, it runs as the undercurrent of all 17 goals. We cannot achieve sustainable development for our world by 2030 if half of the world’s population is left behind. We cannot progress together if we forget about millions of adolescent girls, whose voices are more powerful than we can imagine.
Our role here at the global level is to ensure these voices are heard and their efforts on the ground are strengthened through our global advocacy. We owe it to the girls, and all children, to hold ourselves and others accountable for the commitments made. We have no more time to lose – let’s address together the unfinished business for the rights of girls and boys.
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