World Vision West Africa Statement issued on the Day of the Girl Child on October 11, 2015

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, in recognition of their rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. As the lead agency for the Day, UNICEF, in consultation with other United Nations agencies and civil society partners, selected as the 2015 theme, “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030”. This year’s theme is inspired by the 15-year Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will run up to 2030. The theme argues that girls born at the turn of the millennium have reached adolescence, and the generation of girls born this year will be adolescents in 2030 thus the focus on the adolescent girl.

World Vision works in 7 countries in West Africa and in Central African Republic. Through its work at the grassroots level, World Vision has witnessed considerable improvement in the lives of children and believes solutions are available to end abuse and violence against the girl child through programming and advocacy focused on education, health, nutrition, child protection and participation. World Vision has contributed to the reduction of traditional harmful practices such as early/forced marriage and female genital mutilation and in Ghana a girl child testified that “there used to be a higher rate of school dropouts and teenage pregnancy in our school, but due to the introduction of the Girls’ Club, we have learnt a lot about the importance of girl child education, reproductive health issues, personal hygiene and the negative effects of premarital sex among other topics.. As a result of this, there hasn’t been any dropout and teenage pregnancy in the school the whole of last year, as opposed to the previous years” – a member, Mansie Girls club, Anyima-Mansie programme.

A growing evidence base of effective strategies shows that ending violence against children is possible. The Sustainable Development Goals present an opportunity for Member States to build on the unprecedented progress made under the Millennium Development Goals to protect children around the world from violence, exploitation and abuse.  WorldVision calls on governments to strongly and actively support the inclusion of these indicators to into their agreed national SDG plans:

Target 5.2

End all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation. Indicators: Proportion of ever-partnered women and girls (aged 15-49) subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner, in the last 12 months.  Proportion of women and girls (aged 15-49) subjected to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner, since age 15.

Target 5.3

Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations.

Indicators: Percentage of women aged 20-24 who were first married or in union by age 18.

Percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting.

Target 16.2

End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.

Indicators: Percentage of young women and men aged 18-24 who experienced sexual violence by age 18.

Percentage of children aged 1-14 years who experienced any physical punishment by caregivers in the past month.

Living a life free from violence is the right of all children, and no form of violence against children is justifiable. Protecting children from violence is an explicit obligation set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols. Other international and regional human rights instruments provide similar and complementary safeguards and call upon all states to take all appropriate measures to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children. We call on governments to make the SDGs count for the West African girl child.

For questions, kindly Contact Catherine Demba- Child Protection and Participation Specialist, World Vision , West Africa Region at Catherine_demba@wvi.org , +221 786370156