So this morning I woke up and checked my phone to find that Facebook were advertising ‘International Day of the Girl’ with the option to add a frame to your profile picture to show your support. As an avid user of social media myself I am not unaware of the negative effects and changes it has had to society. However, its ability to empower us as individuals to act as global citizens to bring a sense of an international community is impressive.
The first celebration of ‘International Day of the Girl’ was declared by the United Nations on October the 11th in 2012, making this its fifth observance. It marks a day where its observance allows international awareness and support of gender inequalities that are faced by girls worldwide on a daily basis, predominantly in developing countries. It recognises that for every girl around the World each deserves equal access to health
care, education and basic human needs. The celebration holds an importance in the progress of the third Millennium
Development Goal (“MDG”) to ‘Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women’. The MDG’s have now ended with the summit of 2015 and even though they were all not met, some progress was made. The MDG 3 predominantly led to improved females education with about 23 of developing countries having achieved gender parity in primary education.
The current Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG’S”) aim to follow on and further the progress of the MDG’s. The fifth SDG aims to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ by 2030. The most visible difference between MDG 3 and SDG 5 for gender equality is the addition of ‘girls’ to the goal where such prominent gender inequalities prevail in such customs as child marriage. Additionally, there are now more defined focuses under gender equality with 5 targets on a varying range of aspects in comparison to the previous one target. Whilst progress in female access to education, participation in parliament, child marriage rates and maternal deaths is continuing to improve. Gender equality still remains a persistent challenge for countries worldwide and remains a dominant obstacle to sustainable development.
- 52 countries are still yet to make the vital commitment to guaranteeing equality between men and women in their constitutions.
- 63 countries still have the legal age of marriage lower for women than for men.
- Human trafficking, physical and sexual violence continues to disproportionately affect women and girls.
Today the Guardian has released a short video to show the challenges of our unequal world to promote International Day of the Girl. The video shows some shocking statistics of gender inequalities that are present before birth and throughout life which is reality for many females worldwide. I thoroughly recommend watching the 2 minute video. World leaders have promised through the SDG’s that they will end gender inequality by 2030 but predictions by current progress show that it will take over 100 years. As the video says “Girls of the World will be watching”. The fifth SDG is due to be reviewed at the high-level political forum next year, 2017, so I am excited and hopeful to see continued and heightened progress.
I think we often neglect to realise how lucky we are that we have had the same upbringings as our brothers, received full education, are able to enter employment and have the freedom to marry and have children when we please. This for others would be a privilege that they could only dream of. Gender equality needs to be continued to be observed, acknowledged and addressed to continue the fight against the unjust reality.