In many countries and cultures, girls are still treated as second class citizens. Especially if a girl grows up in an impoverished family and community, boys will be more likely to be sent to school, boys will have access to better health and nutrition than girls, and girls will be more likely to spend their days doing domestic work such as fetching drinking water. Girls are also more likely to be married off at a young age, limiting their ability to receive an education and earn an income in the future.
The pressure for girls to drop out of school when families cannot afford school fees or uniforms or even food can be enormous. Millions of girls are denied an education.
|Produced By: Ms. Michela Morosini|
Millions are still subjected to:
Female genital mutilation (FGM):
Between 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the consequences of FGM. In Africa, about 92 million girls age 10 years and above are estimated to have undergone FGM.
Child marriage represents the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls. Harmful consequences include separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education. Child marriage can also result in bonded labour or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence against the victims.
Girls are often in great danger where they should be the safest: within their families. Domestic abuse of girls can be based on the notion of the family as the private sphere and under male control, as well as a girl’s social and economic dependence on her family, and the idea of her lacking rights as an individual person.
- girls have less access to nutrition, health care, and immunization resulting in instances of earlier death
- gender preference is still practiced in cultures where girls are subject to selective abortions, infanticide, or even sex change operations at a very young age.
Women and girls represent 70 percent of the world’s poor. Countries which do not invest in girls and young women lose billions of dollars in economic output. As well, girls who receive an education and the ability to reach their full potential have less children, and are much less likely to live in poverty and raise a family which lives in poverty.
OECD statistics show that countries with the lowest number of girls in education lie at the bottom of the human development tables.
Women in the work force are crucial for development since research shows that women reinvest 90 per cent of their income back into the household, whereas men reinvest only 30 to 40 per cent.
Women are still the primary caretakers of the family, and therefore increasing the income of women will do much to end hunger, to send more children to school and to in turn end the poverty cycle. It begins with giving girl’s the right to realize their potential.
“Investing in adolescent girls is precisely the catalyst poor countries need to break intergenerational poverty and to create a better distribution of income. Investing in them is not only fair, it is a smart economic move.”
- Robert B. Zoellick, President, World Bank