As the UN declared December 10th Human Rights Day, we thought we’d take a look at the rights of children and girls, and what the international¬†community is doing for them.
In 1989, governments from around the world adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, providing a common framework around which countries could develop their own agendas and measure progress in providing a safe life for every child, a life full of opportunities for education and development. Almost every country has now officially signed this convention. However, in many countries girls continue to be treated differently to boys. Girls are more likely to be abused, to be illiterate, to die during infancy, to be married as children, to be trafficked, to suffer gender discrimination and to live in poverty. In some cultures, boy children are seen as more valuable as they are able to work outside the home, carry on the family name and bring a bride and her dowry into the family. This has led to the killing of female babies and lower numbers of women in countries such as India and China. Charities like UNICEF and many governments are developing ways to protect and promote the rights of girl children in particular.
World leaders continue to meet to discuss the different treatment of girls across the world. While the UNconvention provides common rights for children, each country is different and has different values when it comes to gender. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child makes sure that the customs, traditions, cultural and religious practices cannot be used as an excuse to ignore the UN Rights of the Child. This is becoming increasingly important as more African countries are banning female genital mutilation (FGM), which violates a child‚Äôs right to be free from harm and cruelty. This means that religion or tradition cannot be given as an excuse for practices that cause harm.
In countries where there are fewer people living in poverty and more freedom for women, gender inequality continues with male politicians, heads of big companies and religious leaders greatly outnumbering women. Men are also generally paid more than women across a range of different jobs in our societies. In order to work towards a more equal world, we all need to make sure that we and other girls gain and make the most of the rights highlighted by the UN Rights of the Child. When we have access to education, we need to work hard to succeed. When we have brand viagra, we need to make decisions that benefit other people within the world and offer others the same opportunity to express their own beliefs and ideas. When we have the right to protection, we need to protect others less fortunate than ourselves. As women of the future, the girls of today must make the most of their opportunities in the development of a fairer, more equal society, using their education and freedoms to benefit other girls across the world and to limit the potential obstacles that stand in the way of a happy and safe life for all.
If you want to know more about the UN Rights of the Child in child-friendly language, click here.
Girl Museum Inc.