To secure girls’ human rights is to secure women’s human rights.
The fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place from 26 February to 9 March 2007. In accordance with its multi-year programme of work for 2007-2009, the Commission considered “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child” as its priority theme.
The issue of the girl child was firmly placed on the international agenda by the 1990 Declaration of the World Summit for Children which accorded priority attention to the girl child’s survival, development and protection. At the Summit the international community acknowledged that equal rights of girls and equal participation of women in the social, cultural, economic and political life of societies are a prerequisite for successful and sustainable development. The twenty-seventh special session of the General Assembly on Children in 2002 recognized that the achievement of development goals for children, particularly girls, was contingent upon; inter alia, women’s empowerment.
The Beijing Platform for Action recognized that discrimination and violence against girls begin at the earliest stages of life and continue unabated throughout their lives. Girls often have less access to nutrition, physical and mental health care and education and enjoy fewer rights, opportunities and benefits of childhood and adolescence than boys. They are often subjected to various forms of violence and exploitation.
The outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly titled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty- first Century”, identified child labour, violence, lack of access to education, and sexual abuse as some of the obstacles that the girl child continues to face.
The report of the Secretary-General on the ten- year review of the Beijing Platform for Action concluded that progress has been made by many countries in the advancement of the girl child, in particular in the recognition of the human rights of the girl child through the adoption of appropriate legislation, and in increasing access to primary education. It noted, however, further efforts were needed, inter alia, to ensure equal access to secondary education and to job opportunities, to eradicate sex work by children, to ensure reintegration of the girl child after armed conflicts, and to improve collection of data on the situation of the girl child.
At the 2005 World Summit, world leaders reaffirmed their previous commitments toeliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls6. At its sixtieth session, the General Assembly adopted resolution 60/141 on the girl child, in which it expressed deep concern, inter alia, about discrimination against the girl child and the violation of her rights and stressed the importance of a substantive assessment of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action with a life-cycle perspective.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) contain mutually reinforcing principles to ensure protection and fulfillment of the rights of girls and to end gender-based discrimination. CEDAW General Recommendation 24 on women and health emphasizes that girls constitute a vulnerable and disadvantaged group that makes them especially susceptible to sexual abuse and, inter alia, disadvantages them in access to information about sexual health. sexual health.7 General comments by CRC have drawn attention to hidden forms of discrimination against girls in, inter alia, education, health, including HIV/AIDS, and early marriage.