Ahead of International Day of the Girl on 11 October, we share findings from our recent research trip to South Sudan and call for a renewed focus on reintegration support for girls returning from the long-running conflict.
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“When I was young, I did not want to be cut,” said Aissata Camara, speaking at the High-Level Panel on Female Genital Mutilation, held during the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. “I am one of those 200 million girls who have been cut,” said the Guinean-American activist and co-founder of the There Is No Limit Foundation. “I am here to speak for the 68 million that are now at risk.” Female genital mutilation (FGM) is routinely practiced in 25 countries. In 2015, an estimated 3.9 million girls were cut.
Fifteen-year-old Eno Ekanem was among 80 girls from 34 African countries who attended the first Coding Camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 24 August 2018. The camp marked the launch the African Girls Can CODE Initiative, a joint programme of the African Union Commission, UN Women and the International Telecommunication Union.
More than 80 girls from 34 African countries attended the first Coding Camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 10 days in August 2018. The camp served to launch the African Girls Can CODE Initiative, a joint programme of the African Union Commission (AUC), UN Women Ethiopia and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Governments can and must do more to end the daily sexual abuse and exploitation of girls and boys worldwide, an event at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday highlighted, including through a newly launched tool designed to help countries track progress and gaps.
In the wake of the migration crisis and other humanitarian emergencies, women and girls are experiencing unconscionable trauma. Gender-based violence – including child marriage and forced pregnancy – exploitation, and trafficking often escalate during conflict, threatening the lives and well-being of women and girls around the world. Women and children account for roughly 75 per cent of those displaced by conflict. About 20 per cent are women of reproductive age.
Mercy Akout is a firm believer in educating women and young girls. A South Sudanese refugee living in Kenya's camp, Mercy escaped forced child marriage to become a vocal activist, fighting for women's rights. She works in her community, encouraging families to send their daughters to school and stop harmful cultural practices like child marriage.
When she first arrived in Jordan as a refugee from Sudan five years ago, Waed was painfully shy, refusing to talk to anyone outside her family. Now, sprinting around a basketball court flinging passes and shouting encouragement to her teammates, she says she is unrecognizable from the girl she once was. Waed attributes her transformation to Reclaim Childhood, a non-profit sports programme for refugee and local girls in Jordan.
Trends in child marriage Over the past decade, child marriage has continued to decline. Globally, the proportion of young women who were married as children decreased by 15 per cent, from 1 in 4 to about 1 in 5.
Two years ago, 16-year-old Salia Shemsu waited to be married off. Like many young girls in Ethiopia, it was only a matter of time before she would need to leave her family for a husband. Then an opportunity she never expected arrived. A local announcement called for young people to join an entrepreneurship programme. Salia responded immediately. Salia’s district is among 30 in Ethiopia where a joint UNFPA-UNICEF programme is now empowering vulnerable adolescent girls and boys to support themselves and make healthy decisions – by providing them with the knowledge and skills to do so.