UN Secretary-General: Message for the Girl Child

Please read the Secretary-General’s message for the International Day of the Girl Child.

Girls face discrimination, violence and abuse every day across the world.  This alarming reality underpins the International Day of the Girl Child, a new global observance to highlight the importance of empowering girls and ensuring their human rights.

Investing in girls is a moral imperative — a matter of basic justice and equality.  It is an obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  It is also critical for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, advancing economic growth and building peaceful, cohesive societies. 

For this inaugural day, the United Nations is focusing on the issue of child marriage.  Globally, around one in three young women aged 20 to 24 — approximately 70 million — were married before the age of 18.  Despite a decline in the overall proportion of child brides in the last 30 years, the challenge persists, particularly in rural areas and among the poorest.  If present trends continue, the number of girls who will marry by their 18th birthday will climb towards 150 million in the next decade.

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