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During the 58th Commission on the Status of Women girl delegates drafted a statement on how the Millennium Development Goals have impacted girls’ lives around the world as well as girl-centered visions for a post-2015 Development Agenda. The statement will be read on the floor of the UN during CSW week two.
Here is the full-text copy of the Girls Statement:
The Millennium Development Goals attempted to achieve gender equality, however, they failed to include a comprehensive goal towards the empowerment of girls and are all too far from being achieved. Therefore, post-2015 the UN must re-evaluate methods for undertaking gender equality. We, the girls of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, demand that in the next development agenda the UN incorporate girls into every aspect of the agenda – politically, socially and economically. A stand-alone goal for girls requires sufficient consideration as well as a dedicated effort that includes realistic and achievable targets and indicators to ensure success. Three key areas that must be put into action are education, poverty and violence. We believe that these issues along with the consistent inclusion of girls will lead to girls’ empowerment and an ultimate worldwide respect for the girl child.
The focus of the second Millennium Development Goal was to improve access to primary education, but this target is not sufficient, nor comprehensive. A quality education is not solely based on what is learned in a primary school; it is in secondary and tertiary education where the focus must be now. This does not just mean learning within the classroom but also creating additional enrichment opportunities that allow for global learning communities. How are girls expected to succeed with only basic literacy and math skills? Globally, 1 in 5 girls don’t make it to secondary school. All across the world girls are falling into the learning gaps due to minimal resources and gender-biased learning environments. Schools should not just teach a basic curriculum but also real life lessons and issues such as respect, tolerance, human rights and health. A supportive and stimulating education taught by passionate teachers should build the confidence of girls as well as offering sports, theater, and other extra curricula – where girls can discover their voices and passions. Girls should be encouraged to pursue any subject of interest in order to eliminate stereotypes and achieve equality.
But it cannot stop here. Far too many girls today live in poverty and are hungry across the world. The causes of poverty and hunger include lack of resources, climate change and an imbalance of gender in the workforce. Achieving gender equality can assist in ending hunger and poverty. Education is only half of the equation – after receiving an education females need to have the same opportunities as males to enter the workplace and put their skills to use. When we have equality in the workplace, every girl and thus, every woman has the opportunity to provide for themselves and for their family, putting the world one step closer to eradicating poverty and hunger.
Globally, girls are united by the same fear – the fear of gender-based violence in one form or another. The so-called “superiority” of males is seen in all parts of society and it hinders girls’ empowerment on a global scale. There has not been enough effort to address gender-based violence in the MDGs. Whether it is domestic violence, sexual violence, FGM, honor killings, human trafficking, verbal and emotional abuse, or partner abuse — girls should not have to be afraid. From a young age, girls are told to alter their appearance, so that they are not exploited. But it is not our fault – victim shaming happens all too often. Many people are not educated on the meaning of violence and need to be educated about what this really means – especially the boys and men of today. We, as girls, believe that our bodies should never be violated and there needs to be more advocacy about gender-based violence because once a girl is abused her life is changed forever. No one can understand this feeling of violation until they have been through it – and that is why it is so important that we as girls speak out against violence. By speaking out, we help protect ourselves, and the global girls of the future. We want to live in a world where girls are united, not by fear – but by a sense of safety, pride and peace.
We believe that in the next Development Agenda being a girl should be not an impediment but an empowerment.