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International Day of the Girl Child

ILO says discrimination against young girls must end

The world must make sure that girl children find their rightful places at home, school and, as they grow up, at work - on equal terms with boys.

News | 10 October 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) - ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has called for a coherent set of measures to ensure that girl children around the world attain social justice and progress.
In a statement issued for the first International Day of the Girl Child, marked on October 11, Ryder said that current structures, policies and values which put girl children at a disadvantage must be changed.

“Gender inequalities that take root at an early age tend to produce long-term gender inequality which is reproduced in the world of work. Notwithstanding the values, principles and rights so widely endorsed by the international community, too often, the reality is that girls are systematically left behind by virtue of their sex. This must end.”

The term “girl child” has many connotations, but it is generally used to emphasize the unique challenges faced by girls under the age of 18.

The two themes of the UN day are child labour and child marriage – practices described by Ryder as “a denial of the rights of children and an acute constraint to their full development.”

“Such practices also weigh heavily on the overall capacity of societies to achieve their development objectives,” he added.

Around 88 million of the world’s child labourers are girls. Many are in the lowest paid, least secure jobs and find themselves constrained by gender inequality at home and in the workplace. Others who work in the home remain invisible and unaccounted for.

Ryder emphasised that the benefits of investing in girl children – for their families, communities and society – have long been evident. However inequalities in access to education and in outcomes mean that 64 per cent of illiterate adults are women.

Alongside measures targeting girl children, Ryder said that women and mothers should be empowered through organization, access to income generating activities and social protection.

Given the current global economic crisis, he stressed, there needs to be “a firm resolve to re-commit to the goals of social progress and social justice in shaping a world where the girl child finds her rightful place – on equal terms with boys, at home and in school and well-prepared for entry, at the right time, to the world of work.”