International day of the Girl

Yesterday was the first every International day of the Girl, a day to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. And isn’t that anno 2012 about time…? This year’s theme was all about ending Child marriage.

© Wendy Marijnissen

Every year 10 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides, many girls often even under the age of 16… The girls will be denied to remain children, often stop school and become pregnant very quickly with often disastrous results… In developing countries around 14 million girls between the age of 15-19 give birth, and are twice as likely to die of pregnancy-related complications during childbirth.

© Wendy Marijnissen

At birth a boy is still preferred over a girl. A boy will get better food and a better chance to an education. Girls are taken away from their families after marriage and often fall victim to abuse by their family-in-law. This horrible gender inequality should be stopped and hopefully this Day of the Girl Child will raise awareness.

And even though we in the West often take our rights for granted, we still have a long way to go to equal rights for girls and boys, men and women. Just two days ago a young Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai was gunned down by the local Taliban because she spoke up for her right to go to school.

To end off, do check out the incredible work colleague Stephanie Sinclair did on Child brides for National Geographic. For years she has been committed to document this difficult and emotional subject.  The recent video she made about a young child bride Destaye is heartbreaking…Do take a moment to see it.

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