A UNICEF report 25 years after Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted by the global community, examines if things have really improved for women everywhere.
In 1995 the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted by the global community. It envisioned improving the rights of women and girls. UNICEF released a report on how successful the world has been in adopting the plan of action and its results.
Though some brief developments can be seen in the lives of white girls, these gains are very uneven and vary across regions. The girls are in a better position than they were 25 years ago, but it isn’t a very significant difference.
Here are some important things that the report discusses:
Girls’ access to education has improved by a great margin. The number of girls out of school has decreased by 79 million. And the gender gap has narrowed down in their enrolment in primary schools and almost closed for secondary school.
But the reality is that only two out of five girls complete their secondary school education in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of girls who drop out of secondary schools increased by seven million because of the rapid boom in population.
Globally, girls are still the majority of the illiterate youth. And one in four girls aged 15-19 are neither employed, getting education nor are they trained compared to boys of the same age group.
The proportion of child marriage has declined steadily from one in four in 1995 to one in five today. But the report failed to mention that this would imply that the number of girls getting married has increased if we keep in mind the population boom. To meet the Sustainable Development Goals target of ending child marriages by 2030, the progress is not enough. In fact, it needs to be about 12 times faster.
Early pregnancy and complications associated with it are common consequences. Over the past 25 years, adolescent birth rate has declined from 60 to 44 births per 1,000 girls. However, similar to child marriages, the number of girls has increased.
In East Asia and the Pacific region, the progress has reversed while the sub-Saharan region has seen improvement. However, it still is the region with the highest rate of adolescent births. It is also seen that early child bearing has correlation with lack of education.
A shocking 13 million girls, or one in every 20 have experienced forced sex in their lifetimes. In addition, the number of people who seek help are less than 10 percent. In countries that still practice female genital mutilation, one in three girls still go through it. Despite growing opposition and decreasing rates, the number of victims is still on the rise.
Domestic violence is still seen as justified and as the husband’s right in many countries, showing how deep sated our social norms are. And sex selective abortions are still happening in parts of the world, resulting in skewed birth rates.
Maternal conditions that include haemorrhage, sepsis and obstructed labour are the leading cause of death among girls in the 15 to 19 age-group.
The HIV crisis also disproportionally affects women, with three in four adolescent cases occurring in girls. Globally the number of girls between 10 and 19 has increased from 740,000 in 1995 to 970,000 today. The gender skew is worst in the Sub-Saharan countries where only a third of teenage girls use condoms.
However, the good news is that the number of girls turning to modern methods of family planning has risen from 36 percent to 60 percent. Since there was an increase in the demand for modern contraception, the need is still unmet. And it is expected to remain just as high for the next decade or so.
This UNICEF report 25 years after Beijing Declaration ‘calls on global, national and regional stakeholders to expand opportunities for girls and young women to be the change-makers and designers of the solutions to their challenges and opportunities; invest in the skills development of adolescent girls so they can compete in today’s labour market; improve girls’ health and nutrition; and end violence in all its forms against them.”
Picture credits: Pexels
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