Thursday, October 11, 2012

GIRL

In too many parts of the world, girl is a four letter word.

In a resolution adopted by the UN last year, today has been designated the first International Day of the Girl Child, with the goal to "raise awareness of the situation of girls around the world". That "situation" ranges from peer and social pressure... to discrimination, harsh treatment, and worse.

The theme for this year is "Ending Child marriage" which the UN stated "is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl's life." Although many countries have passed minimum age limits for marriage, such laws are often ignored, and studies indicate that, worldwide, around 1/3 of women aged 20-24 were married before they turned 18. Of those, about 1/3 before they turned 15. Once married, many are forced by their husbands, often significantly older than them, to give up their education.

But it does not take an early marriage to end education. People are still remembering Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who, just a couple of days ago, was shot by masked Taliban militants onboard her school bus. Why did they shoot her? Because they have issued orders that girls not attend school - and she, publicly and vocally, ignored their commands and fought to attend.

As is her right.