AP PHOTOS: As the world marks the Day of the Girl Child, AP photographers explore what it means to grow up female in 2018
Today is the 7th annual International Day of the Girl Child! This year’s theme: “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force.”
Thank you for standing with me and my nonprofit Too Young to Wed in the name of girls everywhere as they inspire, innovate and take charge of their own futures. But our work is far from finished because, this year alone, 12 million girls under 18 will be married and 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 will become pregnant in developing regions.
CAIRO (AP) — As the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child, women’s rights activists point to progress on a wide array of issues but say more needs to be done to protect girls from child marriage, sexual assault and other forms of exploitation.
Experts say girls in their first decade are better positioned for success than their mothers and grandmothers were, thanks to advances in health care and nutrition, and wider access to education. But they say more must be done to keep adolescent and teenage girls in school, and to protect them from violence, unintended pregnancies and forced marriage, which remains common in much of the developing world.
“Poverty, violence, and cultural traditions oppress millions of girls in every part of the world,” said Stephanie Sinclair, a visual journalist who founded “Too Young To Wed,” which campaigns to protect girls’ rights and end child marriage, while offering services to survivors. “It is still a global struggle to have girls valued for more than their bodies — for just their sexuality, fertility and labor.”
The U.N. children’s agency says 12 million girls under the age of 18 will marry this year, and 21 million between the aged of 15 and 19 will get pregnant.
“Every girl should have the right to decide for herself, if, when and whom to marry,” Sinclair said. “To be allowed to be children and teens, with access to gender specific health care and all levels of education; and free to determine the course of their own lives.”