Florida A&M University
(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) – Imagine that you are child again, and you live in a country where you cannot go to school because you are a girl. Also, imagine that you are treated as property, so you parents choose whom you will marry. Imagine that you married a stranger double your age, and you probably will die because of early pregnancy complications. Finally, imagine that you don’t have the power to change this situation.
Last year, the United Nations Women declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child. The goal of this day is create awareness about the different issues that girls are facing around the world by promoting girls’ empowerment and fulfilling their human rights.
Michelle Bachelet, UN Women executive director, in her first message for the First Day of the Girl Child said, “Girls, stand up for your rights… equality is good and smart, and to governments and authorities—invest in girls to benefit all.”
This year, UN Women has decided to focus on child marriage. Statistics show that 25,000 girls become child brides every single day. One in nine girls between 10 and 14 years old has been forced into marriage.
Tania J. Luis, a third-year biology student from Palm Beach, Fla., said, “I didn’t know about this situation, and I’m conscious that most people don’t know.”
A study from the CARE organization reported that child brides are twice as likely to be beaten by their husbands. Child brides are treated as property – bought, sold and discarded at the whims of men. And child marriage is illegal in countries such as India, Mozambique and Niger among other developing countries, where it is most common.
“They shouldn’t get married against their will…this is inhumane and disrespectful, and should be stopped,” said Gilbert Grantlin III, a first-year criminal justice student from West Palm Beach, Fla.
Issues affecting girls are not an exclusive matter of developing countries. Studies showed that in the U.S., more than a half of all rapes of females happen before age 18. One in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
In Tallahassee, there are women’s organizations such as the Oasis Center for Women and Girls. This institution focuses on personal, professional, and economic concerns facing women, girls and their families.
“Every effort to create awareness is an important initiative… we should not isolate ourselves from global issues. We are a global community,” said Haley Cluter, Oasis Center executive director.
Specialists mention that by investing in girls we can develop a generation of women — mothers, students, workers and leaders — that will benefit everyone in society.
“When you encourage women’s empowerment and leadership, you are strengthening your community,” said Cluter.
Activities supporting this day have taken place in different parts of the world. One of them was to host pep rallies at schools. They are student meetings focused on teaching them about the issues the girls are facing around the world and how those issues can affect their communities.
Takeidra Nelson, a first-year business student from Belle Glade, Fla., said, “This day makes me feel what is going on around the world and help those girls.”