By Johanna Kanes, IANGEL Bridge Fellow
October 11th marked the 8th annual International Day of the Girl (IDG) which serves to “highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”¹ This year, to mark achievements attained since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, the theme of the day was “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.” In celebration of the IDG, IANGEL is proud to announce a new initiative, Girls Rights’ Project, aimed at supporting girls’ rights.
We are embarking on a new partnership with UC Berkeley Law’s Pro Bono Program in collaboration with international LL.M. students. This project will deepen our understanding of the legal rights of girls around the world, by answering key questions about the laws on child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and sexual and reproductive health.
Personal autonomy, self-determination, and human rights are unifying principles, essential to advancing gender justice for girls to ensure they can make their own choices as they grow. Building on the LL.M. students’ research, IANGEL will develop an intersectional framework for advancing girls’ rights. By engaging other academics, and partnering with social service providers and other experts in the field, we seek to understand whether or how the laws on one issue affect the laws on another, in different jurisdictions, and how the laws on these issues intersect or conflict with each other. The project’s goal is to foster more effective advocacy and legal reform efforts that will support girls’ ability to forge their own path and make their own decisions relating to sexuality and parenthood.
This project will move us toward attaining goal five of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which addresses gender equality, and includes targets specific to girls: ending discrimination and violence against girls; eliminating harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage; and strengthening policies and legislation to empower girls.² Girls are essential members of society, representing half the youth population. The girl child has enormous potential, as exemplified in extraordinary youth leaders like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Autumn Peltier, Artemisa Xakriabá, Emma Gonzales and Marley Diaz, just to name a few.
Current international legal instruments supporting the girl child include the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. However, more advocacy and action is needed to ensure that all girls, whether at home or abroad, enjoy the fulfillment of their rights. Girls continue to be the most excluded group in the world. Negative effects of poverty and disability are magnified in girls’ lives, they have limited access to opportunity and education (32 million girls worldwide do not attend primary school), and they experience half of all sexual assaults.³ IANGEL’s Girls’ Rights Project seeks to move us toward the elimination of these negative effects and to empower girls to reach their full potential.³
¹un.org/en/events/girlchild/ UN General Assembly Resolution 66/170