All over the world, an alarming number of adolescent girls are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated and even murdered. The threat of violence at the hands of family members, partners, teachers and peers grossly violates their rights, diminishes their power and suppresses their potential.
This violence is exacerbated and reinforced by the multiple deprivations adolescent girls face, including unequal access to education, skills, information, sexual and reproductive health services, and social and economic resources. Girls are subjected to discriminatory social norms and harmful practices – such as female genital mutilation -- that perpetuate a cycle of violence. A culture of impunity allows violence against adolescent girls to continue unabated. Conflict and humanitarian crises dramatically increase the risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.
My UNITE to End Violence against Women campaign is engaging governments, international organizations, civil society groups, the media and citizens everywhere to raise awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending violence against women and girls. A parallel campaign – HeForShe – emphasizes that gender equality is not just a women’s issue by enrolling males to act against all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls. As we define the post-2015 development framework and review progress achieved under the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, ending gender violence and promoting the empowerment of girls and women must be at the heart of our global agenda.
To end the cycle of violence against adolescent girls we must go beyond raising awareness and take action to equip girls with knowledge, skills, resources and power to determine their own path in life. We must provide them with safe transport, and access to sources of energy and water, quality health services and supportive environments that will allow them to thrive.
On this International Day of the Girl Child, I call on all governments to take action to end all forms of violence against girls in all parts of the world. Together, we must create a world where violence against women and girls is never tolerated and girls are always empowered to reach their full potential.