We the girl delegates of the 56th session on the Commission on the Status of Women hereby recognize the human rights of girls and stand to address the needs, experiences and concerns of girls both internationally and domestically. We stand to highlight the issues confronting rural girls such as sexual violence, access to education and health services.
Sexual violence is not only an issue for women and girls but is a human rights issue. Rape and sexual assault are prevalent in all realms of society. For rural girls, the affects of sexual violence are often amplified as these girls are isolated and at the mercy of their families and communities. Sexual violence and the stigma associated with it, creates silence and prevents girls from seeking help.
We demand that governments engage and educate men and boys on the value of girls, as only they can stop rape and sexual assault.
Child marriage is another instance of sexual violence, in which a young girl’s human rights are violated. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are more likely to be abused mentally, physically and sexually. Girls who are married at a young age often become pregnant and childbirth is the leading cause of death among girls ages fifteen to nineteen. Early pregnancy is also an obstacle girls must overcome in order to exercise their right to an education.
We demand that governments create educational opportunities for pregnant girls, to prioritize childcare for young mothers so that they may attend school, and to inform communities of the importance of educating girls and delaying marriage.
Education is an essential human right that should not be denied based on gender, race, religion, location or current health status. A lack of infrastructure and transportation are obstacles girls must overcome to attend school. Unsafe conditions and inadequate resources also prevent girls from receiving a quality education.
We demand that governments provide girls with access to quality schooling in a safe environment.
Millennium Development Goals 5 and 6 hope to achieve universal access to treatment and reproductive health, yet a lack of access to health education, clean water, feminine hygiene products, prenatal care, qualified medical professionals, and proper medical treatment perpetuates the cycle of poverty. The lack of access to these resources affects all aspects of life for rural girls.
We demand that governments provide girls with compulsory health education not only as a preventative measure, but also as way of spreading awareness to end the stigma associated with seeking medical treatment.
We are the leaders of today. Listen to girls, respect girls, educate girls, and empower girls.