From 08-12 October, the European Week of Action for Girls will draw the attention of the EU to the particular challenges that come with being born a girl in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Girls face multiple challenges in realising their rights. Young and female, they struggle against the double discrimination which sees them stranded at the bottom of the social ladder. At every stage of life, they will have fewer opportunities than their male counterparts.
They are more likely to be forced out of school, to be subject to violence and have their sexual rights controlled by others. They may be forced into marriage early, before they are ready, be subjected to harmful traditional, cultural or religious practices, or denied access to healthcare.
Girls at the forefront of EU policymaking
The European Week of Action for Girls calls for the European Union, and international community at large, to take decisive action to overcome these barriers, which prevent girls from achieving their potential.
Organised by Plan EU Office under the official Patronage of the President of the European Parliament and in partnership with United Nations Brussels, the European Week of Action for Girls aims to put girls’ rights and gender equality at the forefront of EU policymaking. It is supported by civil society organisations working with girls and youth in Europe and developing countries.
“The EU has made a number of strong commitments to girls’ rights in the past. Most recently, the European Parliament adopted its report on development cooperation financing which aims to strengthen the support given to girls in the bloc’s development budget until the end of the decade,” says Karen Schroh, Head of Plan EU Office.
“The fact that the European Week of Action for Girls has been given the official patronage of the President of the European Parliament is testament to the importance the Parliament places on girls’ rights. Now it’s time for the Commission and member states to follow the Parliament’s example and make sure girls’ at the heart of EU development cooperation.”
Making girls' rights front page news
Writing in the Girls’ Rights Gazette, produced in support of the European Week of Action for Girls, EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs says, “Girls really can be the agents of change, but too often they are held back by poverty… On this, the first ever International Day of the Girl Child, let’s take the opportunity to look at how we can really give girls the tools that they need to become the future of development.”
“Ensuring that girls feel respected and valued in society is the first step to breaking down discriminatory barriers, and in building more prosperous societies for men and women alike,” adds EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.
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Globally one in three girls is denied an education
Girls’ primary school completion rates are below 50% in most poor countries
Every 3 seconds, another girl is forced or coerced to marry
1 in every 3 girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18, 1 in 7 marries before the age of 15
150 million girls, and 73 million boys, under 18 have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence
The leading cause of death for young women aged 15-19 in developing countries is pregnancy.
An extra year of secondary school increases a girl’s potential income by 15 to 25%.
Each extra year of a mother’s schooling cuts infant mortality by between 5 and 10%.
An increase of only 1% in girls secondary education attendance, adds 0.3% to a country's GDP.
The European Week of Action for Girls is organised by Plan EU Office under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament, in partnership with the United Nations Brussels. It is supported by: Action for Global Health, European Youth Forum, International Disability and Development Consortium, International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network, International Falcon Movement, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Federation of Independent Scouts Europe, and the World Organisation of the Scout Movement European Region.
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