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States must better protect and empower girls

GENEVA (11 October 2019) — States must take meaningful action to eliminate discrimination against girls and promote girls’ equal rights, said the UN Child Rights Committee and UN Women’s Rights Committee in a joint statement published today for the International Day of the Girl.

Each year, approximately 12 million girls under 18 get married, and at least 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation. Further, about 94% of all victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are women and girls.

The UN Committees urged States to address the ongoing harmful practices that severely violate girls’ human rights, including child marriage, female genital mutilation, and trafficking for sexual exploitation. “States must better protect and advance the rights of girls,” said the UN Committees, “and ensure full compliance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

2019 marks the 30th and 40th anniversaries, respectively, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the two key conventions that constitute the cornerstone for girls’ rights. The UN Committees noted that progress has been made towards the realisation of girls’ rights since the adoption of the Conventions. However, girls worldwide continue to face a “double burden” of discrimination, based upon both gender and age, and are uniquely vulnerable to sexual and reproductive rights violations due to inequalities, stereotypes and unequal power relations.

“It is of paramount importance,” said the UN Committees, “that States recognize that the human rights of girls are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.”

The full statement can be read on both the webpage of the Child Rights Committee and the webpage of the Women’s Rights Committee.

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