International Day of the Girl Child (Day of the Girl) is celebrated annually on October 11 to highlight issues concerning gender inequality facing young girls. This year’s theme is “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.”
There are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, each with limitless individual potential. However they are disappearing from public awareness and the international development agenda. Between inequities in secondary education to protection issues, adolescent girls are uniquely impacted. The need of the hour is to benefit them from targeted investments and programmes that address their distinct needs. Investing in adolescent girls can have a formidable ripple effect to create a better world by 2030.
Highlighting the unique challenges and potential of adolescent girls Blue Veins in collaboration with Human Rights Directorate, Alliance to End Early, child and forced marriages (KP/FATA), PVDP, NACG,PCSN,TNC and MEN Unite organized provincial youth assembly.
The event, which took place in Peshawar capital city of the Pakistani province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was well attended by NGO representatives, lawyers, students, political activists, Minister Law and Human Rights, Imtiaz Ahmad Qureshi, Neelam Toru Chairperson Provincial Commission on Status of Women , Noor Zaman Khattak Director Human Rights and Rubina Naz Member of the PCSW and president of the Insaf Lawyers Forum also participated in the event.
The event emphasized on the issue of child marriages in Pakistan and called on the provincial government to take practical steps that can end child marriages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Participants of the event emphasized on the need of working directly with girls to give them the opportunity to build skills and knowledge, understand and exercise their rights and develop support networks, is an important part of our efforts to end child marriage.
Child Marriage is a significant problem. Supporting young people to be agents of change can be an effective and empowering process in itself.
Coordinator of the Provincial Alliance to End, Forced and Child Marriages Qamar Naseem said that “using an empowerment approach can lead to positive outcomes for girls and their families by supporting girls to become agents of change, helping them envisage what alternative roles could look like in their communities and ultimately helping them to forge their own pathway in life. There is a need for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take proactive actions in developing, implementing, and funding cross-sectoral policies, programs, and plans to end child marriage. Such initiative should also include participation of all stakeholders, including civil society, children, and the youth.”
Imtiaz Shahid , Minister Law and Human Rights while expressing his views said that “Child Marriage is a significant problem. Supporting young people to be agents of change can be an effective and empowering process in itself. We must work with young people so they can advocate for change as well as participate in formulating programs that can directly benefit their peers.”
Chairperson; Provincial Commission on Status of Women, Neelam Toru commented: “Fighting child marriages is the primary responsibility of both the government and civil society. We must work together to empower more young people to create, join and lead community dialogues. In addition, we need to support effective programs that address child marriage and helping married girls have access to education and other opportunities.”
Director Human Rights (KP), Noor Zaman Khattak remarked: “Our province needs a multifaceted strategy to prevent and eliminate child marriage, including legal reform, changes in cultural norms at the community level, and measures to strengthen girls’ education and improve opportunities for young women”.
Taimur Kamal of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society said: “Efforts to end child marriages must leverage the role of women and girls as change agents because they are closest to the problem, they will have particular insights helpful in finding solutions. They must have a voice in decision-making and be allowed to become leaders in decision processes and must be enabled to speak out to advance their own rights.
Mohammad Nehar of PVDP while talking to participants said: “Ending and responding to child marriage requires the commitment, involvement and collaboration of a diverse network of partners, who bring unique perspectives, skills, and resources to face a daunting challenge.”
Toor Gul Chmakaini representative from FATA while expressing his views with the media opined: “Early and forced marriage is a brutal transition from childhood to adulthood that harms the education, health, economic, and social potential of millions of girls across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.”
Participants of the event provided following recommendations to government and the civil society for tackling child marriage
- Developing and implementing effective legislation
- Improving girls’ access to, and experience of, quality primary and secondary education
- Engaging and mobilizing parents, teachers, religious leaders and community members
- Providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services
- Supporting economic and livelihood opportunities
- Supporting girls and boys who are already married
- Recognising and promoting the participation of girls and boys in decisions that affect them