Well, we finally got a day! 🙂
Today, October 11, 2012, is officially the first annual International Day of the Girl-and I’m excited! This day signifies to me that somebody, somewhere is listening to the plight of not just women and mothers-but young girls.
And one of the biggest problems that young girls face, after sexual violation and trafficking, is child marriage. It may not seem plausible to those of you in some western areas (I say some because depending upon your own cultural background and/or the culture(s) you are exposed to in your immediate community, this may not be foreign to you.), but child marriage is a huge problem in certain ethnic and tribal cultures.
I don’t want to confine this problem to issues of developing countries; because it goes beyond that. For the most part, cultural traditions have more to do with this than economic status. While most of the girls affected by child marriage are poor, again, it is a cultural norm that dictates this practice.
That is why the UN is dedicating this first Day of the Girl to bringing awareness to ending child marriage.
“On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 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.
For its first observance, 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 of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities.
Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.
Girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to virtually end a girl’s education. Conversely, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the best strategies for protecting girls and combating child marriage.
Preventing child marriage will protect girls’ rights and help reduce their risks of violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, and maternal death and disability, including obstetric fistula. When girls are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, they can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families and participate in the progress of their nations.” ~From the United Nations website, http://www.un.org~
So, Butterflies, what can we do today to help bring awareness to the issue of child marriage? Well, that is easy! All we have to do is talk about it.
There are different international organizations, like UN Women, GirlUp, as well as smaller organizations around the world that have organized different events to spread the word. You can visit their individual websites to join them. But you can also spread the word on your own by:
1.) Educating yourself about the problem. The UN has an extensive amount of information about child marriage and the devastating results of such a practice. Learning about the problem will also help you to learn how you can help to solve it.
2.) Use your VOICE!! Yes, you have a voice and it is important! Dedicate your all of social networking today to spreading the word about child marriage. Share pictures, stories and statistics (all of which can be found on the international sites I listed above) and spread the word!
3.) Talk to young women in your family or community that you are connected to about the problem. Getting other young women into the discussion and educating them about problems that other girls their age fight against, empowers them to be strong within themselves and to look out for the welfare of others. You never know, you could be planting the seed of the next Winnie Mandela!
Enjoy today and don’t forget to spread the word-#EndChildMarriage!!
Love and Butterfly Kisses!