Giving the floor to girls – this was what 30 NGOs working with UNESCO, including AIC, wanted to do in order to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child at the UNESCO headquarters, to make sure that this day was truly dedicated to celebrating them.
In order to prepare this day, AIC participated in the collection of hundreds of stories from girls supported by NGOs at local level, stories that express their fears, their difficulties and their dreams.
“I’m 12, there is violence everywhere, especially domestic violence. Someone attempted to rape me. There is a lot of prostitution in the streets, sometimes the girls are underage, it makes me sad, they are selling their bodies. My dream? To become a policewoman.” (A girl being supported by AIC-Brazil)
“I’m 14, my father was assassinated. At school, the teacher tried to rape me. My dream is to be a prison guard.” (A girl being supported by AIC-Colombia)
The voices of these girls, and many more, were heard at international level.
The NGOs present highlighted that these testimonies demonstrate three major types of issues facing girls today:
- Issues linked to the local and family context (explored in a session presented by Isabelle Chaperon, AIC International Representative)
Girls’ birth rights are still sometimes contested; in some regions the number of births is not declared to the state; mutilation practices continue; very young girls are forced into marriages by their families; girls are all too often victims of their parents’ choices and are prevented from having access to education, girls do the majority of the housework; they suffer when there are weaknesses in the family; violence remains an ongoing difficulty for girls, including in family life.
The session was an opportunity to present a project from AIC-Philippines – a refuge for girls who have been victims of violence within their families.
- Issues linked to conditions at school
In some regions, the lack of access to toilet facilities mainly affects girls; insecurity and violence can be a problem both on the way to school and within the school itself; a lack of emotional and sexual education leads to early pregnancies which have serious consequences for health and education; poor quality teaching, a lack of access to computers and school books and access problems for people with disabilities are all also obstacles to girls’ education.
During this session, there was a presentation of a project from AIC-El Salvador through which girls can attend training workshops to set up income generating activities alongside their schooling.
- Issues linked to behavior in society
The issues linked to violence against girls leads us to pose questions about society’s responsibilities in these multiple phenomena. Girls are victims of trafficking and smuggling: they are abducted and sold, particularly to “supply” wives, or they are enlisted in the armed forces; prostitution is trivialized, it involves younger and younger girls who are sometimes encouraged by their families; sometimes rape is trivialized and used as a weapon or as a factor for exclusion.
AIC is among the organizations that is addressing this situation, taking a stand and getting organized at local level, both in preventing and dealing with the causes and consequences of these various problems, convinced that changes must come from within. AIC’s work in this domain was illustrated via a video presentation of a project from AIC-Mexico about welcoming and supporting children who have been victims of violence. The project also includes training and raising awareness in families.
The day was a big success, the words of the girls who articulated their projects and their dreams generated admiration among all who were present, as this conclusion highlights: “The take-home message is the light at the end of the tunnel, going to school, becoming a doctor, midwife, nurse, judge, lawyer, prison guard, or minister! In their dreams, the girls, marked by their experience of violence, express their desire for justice, caring for others, and political action. They are showing us the way forward.”
AIC would like to thank all those who contributed to the success of the day. Without you, it wouldn’t have been possible!
For more information about this day, see the FamVin website.
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