On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
This year’s day will focus on child marriage, which is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life. Child marriage denies a girl her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of violence and abuse, and jeopardizes her health.
According to UNICEF, globally, more than one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. However, 63% of Guinea’s girls were brides before 18, the fifth highest prevalence of child marriage in the world. The practice affects all girls in Guinea regardless of region, ethnic group, and economic standing.
By getting married as a child, Guinea’s girls have fewer opportunities to realize their potential. This does only rob girls of their rights, but the nation from realizing its full potential.
The good news is that a movement to end child marriage is already underway in Guinea. To date, over 500 villages across all four natural regions of Guinea have already made commitments to fully abandon child marriage, following years of grassroots education, dialogue and community-led mobilization for social change.
On this the first International Day of the Girl Child, we call on citizens of Guinea to speak out on child marriage in their communities and through the media and Internet. We call on religious leaders to take a stand for the rights of girls. The Government of Guinea must redouble its efforts to end child marriage. We call on politicians planning to run for parliament to make girls’ issues national issue and create an enabling environment for change to occur. Finally, we call on the Government, civil society, NGOs and the UN system to support communities in abandoning this harmful practice.
Together, Guinea can end child marriage in this generation and further the cause of human rights.
For more information:
Girls Not Brides: http://girlsnotbrides.org/