International Day of the Girl: Girls Speak Out 2016
Brief summary of presentation of information made
Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, introduced by the Executive Director and Under-Secretary General of the UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, as the ‘most gender-sensitive Secretary-General so far… who has achieved a huge amount… introduction of SDGs particularly important.’
Video introduction by Secretary-General: remarks that many of the SDGs relate to girls (directly or indirectly), hence theme (‘Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress’). ‘Investing in girls is the right things to do – the smart thing to do.’
Statement by Minister of Status of Women for Canada, the Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu: Canada PM Trudeau has initiated a cabinet with a 50/50 gender split, and has made gender equality a focus for his government which has link to UNICEF (for sanitation and education) and NGOs (working for community programmes).
Explanation that event would be broken into three section: Marginalised Girls; Girls in Politics; Girls for Girls. (Entire event, with exception of respondents and brief spoken introduction by the Working Group on Girls, presented by girls.)
Gender inequality stated as being a major cause of poverty. Gender inequality in education, particularly felt by ethnic minorities. Childhood and arranged marriages a particular issue: 150,000 children will be in marriage by 2020 if current trends continue. Sexual harassment in schools another issue.
Speaker Urooba (Girls Learn International) on Muslim America: Islamaphobia in schools – she has first-hand experience of unequal, negative discussions in the classroom, which she says stems from a lack of knowledge. Her desire is to create and distribute a toolkit to schools to educate.
Speaker Eva (Girl Scouts of the USA) on Black Lives Matter Youth: belief that issues BLM works against are systemic, institutionalised and a problem for the whole community. Implications of racist behaviour for all black people including girls. Unequal education: ethnic minorities more likely to be suspended, then later drop out and be incarcerated. Speaker founded I Project website to promote discussion of little-discussed topics through art.
Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Lakshimi Puri: Importance of SDGs in this area, particularly promise to leave no girl or woman behind (SDG 5). Marginalisation in many ways: sexual/physical violence in public and private, especially in rural areas, the poor, unpaid workers; child marriage and pregnancy; infanticide and pregnancy termination. Economic barriers exist. Speaker believes measurement crucial – where are their problems, to what extent and why? ‘Let us all be agents’ for change. UN Women prioritising empowerment of females.
Girls in Politics
Speaker Rachel: 74% of girls believe that females must work harder than males to succeed in politics – but ‘girls are interested in politics.’ Ways to tackle include: after-school programmes, school clubs, school governance in order to encourage participation in politics, create an interest and provide an organised path to engagement; speaking out against bias; demanding girls rights.
Speaker Sofy (Plan International) on childhood and adolescence: trafficking can come about through pressure from households, a way to help the family (economic reasons). Also a way of preventing stigma (early pregnancy). Speaker: ‘girls are not merchandise – why should girls be compelled in this way? The law is there to protect.’
Speaker Hariella on action: the message of the empowerment of girls has not yet touched everyone. Speaker trained as leader at Bella Abzurg Leadership Institute and went on to advocate for social justice; other peers went on to intern for NGOs for gender empowerment. Speaker: ‘make female rights central to policy.’ Importance of advocacy for those with no voice.
Girls for Girls
Speaker Emma: solidarity required to change. Power of events like this one needs to transcend into everyday life. Over 62 million girls not in school globally, and 50% of sexual violence is against girls 16 and under. ‘Be each other’s champions.’
Speaker Anna (Alice Paul Institute): Alice Paul has roots in the suffrage movements – visionary. Speaker: API affirmed and inspired her views on women. API girls advisory council – educates on womens’ issues, speak at events, lobby, fundraise.
Speaker Johnnie (Plan International) on attitudes: inequality manifests itself in many ways, creates fear. Distressing behaviour has become normalised, but positive behaviour can be too.
- Successes of summit over five years discussed, as a forum to discuss, inspire and raise awareness.
- Solidarity encouraged: ‘Speak up for each other’
- Challenge negative behaviour
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
- Affirmation of importance of measurement in working towards the SDGs, as SA is working towards.
- Gender inequality comes in many forms, both visible (e.g. street harassment) and invisible/subtle (education inequality, fear, attitudes). The SA must recognise it in all forms.
- A role to play in promoting roles for women and girls in all spheres – leadership, politics, employment
Web links for more information
- http://www.itstheiproject.com/ - created by BLM Youth co-founder to promote discussion of activism through art
- http://www.alicepaul.org/our-programs/girls-community/ - Alice Paul Girls Advisory Council