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International Day of Girl Child opportunity to take stock of successes and achievements

Today’s International Day of the Girl Child celebrates the achievements by, with and for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action twenty-five years ago and the passage of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. This spirit will mark a year of activities under the theme GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.

This day is a celebration of the achievements in the empowerment of girls and the respect for their rights since they were first mentioned as a separate group in an international instrument a quarter of a century ago, with the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The responsibility of states to respect all children’s rights without distinction, including based on gender, was enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.

Among achievements at the global level, a growing percentage of girls are attending school and completing their education, with the number of those who get married and bear children while still children themselves is decreasing. Increasing numbers of girls are acquiring know-how and skills allowing them to access decent jobs. Girls are breaking boundaries and challenging stereotypes and exclusion, including concerning children with special needs and those living in marginalised communities. Movements by and for adolescent girls are tackling issues such as child marriage, education inequality, gender-based violence, climate change, and girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation.

This year and next mark anniversaries of several other milestones in girls’ empowerment and rights: twenty-five years have passed since the adoption of the landmark document by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, according various fundamental rights to women and girls, and 2020 will mark five years of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition to dedicating a separate goal to women and girls, this document mainstreams gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment dimensions in all other sustainable development goals. 

Within the framework of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, special emphasis is placed on the education and economic empowerment of girls (and women). In 2019, the Foreign Ministry has supported two empowerment projects by Slovenian NGOs in Rwanda: the project “Education and economic empowerment of vulnerable groups of women in Rwanda” by the Peace Institute and the project “More efficient resource use to ensure sustainable survival in the District of Karongi” by Caritas Slovenia. In addition, Slovenia has channelled a contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross to end sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Slovenian flagship project Our Rights, which has been carried out in Morocco, Egypt and Kosovo in 2019, includes girls and boys in education on children’s rights on an equal footing.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly decided to designate 11 October International Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness of girls’ rights and the unique challenges faced by this group. Recognising the vulnerability of girls in specific situations and their essential contribution to building a just, peaceful and environmentally friendly society of the future, Slovenia uses its foreign policy to regularly call for improving their situation and respect for their rights.