By Françoise Girard
Some day, they will say this was the moment when the world woke up to my potential…this is the moment when being a girl became my strength, my sanctuary, not my pain.”
These are the words of the Girl Declaration, a powerful statement written by adolescent girls who are living in poverty around the world.
All too often, these girls have been neglected by society. Their needs go unmet and their rights are ignored. People take advantage of their lack of power, their isolation, and their limited access to economic opportunities and legal protections.
Consider that 14 million girls are married as children each year before they are physically or emotionally ready. In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than one in five girls makes it to secondary school. Worldwide, nearly 50 percent of all sexual assaults are against girls aged 15 years or younger.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
That’s why today—on the International Day of the Girl—we celebrate the Girl Declaration. The International Women’s Health Coalition has made advancing the rights and health of adolescent girls a key focus area of our work. From Brazil to Nigeria to Pakistan, we are partnering with local groups to promote girl friendly health services, keep girls in schools, and eliminate child marriage. We are making sure that girls’ voices are heard by the powerbrokers in Washington, DC and the United Nations who are setting the global agenda for development.
We know that investing in girls is a smart economic decision that will solve global challenges. But more importantly, it is the right thing to do.
Please take a moment to read the Girl Declaration and listen to what girls have to say. Help us build a better future for girls and stop the cycle of poverty and abuse before it starts.
I welcome your thoughts and support.
International Women’s Health Coalition
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