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Strong Women For Strong Women Campaign Overview

23 July 2004

Strong Women For Strong Women Campaign Overview

This three year campaign will highlight three issues of critical importance to girl children: Child Protection (from abuse, labour, trafficking, genital mutilation), Education and HIV/AIDS. The campaign will deal with these issues as they affect girl children in the developing world and New Zealand.

At the launch, the Prime Minister and other prominent New Zealand women will talk about their role models and mentors and how their lives have been helped by this support. We would like to communicate the message that not all women are lucky enough to have such ‘support mechanisms’ in their lives and that advantaged women should support their disadvantaged ‘sisters’, both overseas and in New Zealand.

UNICEF therefore invites you to support this campaign and ensure the right of girls to life, survival and development thereby making them and their communities stronger.

Why is it so important to target girls? Some facts: Two thirds of the world’s 862 million illiterate adults are women Two thirds of adults living with HIV/AIDS under the age of 25 are women In sub-Saharan Africa 2 girls are HIV infected for every boy Girls are 60% more likely to be educationally deprived Female Genital Mutilation affects 130 million girls and women globally Girls between 13-18 years constitute the largest group in the sex industry 1.2 million children are trafficked per year for marriage, labour, sex

The reason girls are so disadvantaged is that most of the societies where these statistics originate are male dominated. When there are stock or crops to tend, water to fetch and siblings to be cared for, girls do it. While doing these chores, girls are vulnerable to kidnapping and being sold for begging, marriage, sex and as child soldiers.

One of the best ways to protect girls from these practices is to keep them in school. Experience and research tell us that girls who attend school learn how to avoid HIV infection and are protected from kidnapping, less likely to marry in their early teens, less likely to have so many children, less likely to be sold into forced labour, marriage or the sex industry and more likely to resist genital mutilation.

It has also been estimated that in the developing world one year of education equates to a 10% increase in GDP for that country.

Unless the education and living standards of girls are improved, generational poverty and female discriminatory practices will continue.

ENDS


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