A group of girls from 8 countries, participants in the LIGHT for GIRLS campaign, met today [31st March 2023] with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem. Girls demand to live Safe and Sound in a world that denies them their most basic rights.
Reem Alsalem is an independent consultant on gender issues, refugee and migrant rights, transitional justice and humanitarian response and has held the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur since August 2021. This rapporteurship is one of the first independent mechanisms for human rights on the elimination of violence against women and was an important advance of the world movement for their rights.
“We live with a problem that we share at a regional and global level. Many of the deaths of girls and women in Honduras went unpunished and this is alarming,” said Hellen and Zoe. “In the global manifesto of 9 countries we call for a robust protection system to protect girls.”
The rapporteur wanted to meet with the girls from Guatemala, Peru, Chad, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, South Sudan and Kenya who were participating in the La LUZ de las NIÑAS campaign to thank them for their work and learn first-hand about the situation of violence against which, as girls, they have to face, in addition to collecting their demands and proposals.
“A woman does not begin to be discriminated against from the moment she is a woman,” stated the Rapporteur during her speech. “Many of the problems we have and the discrimination we face start when we are very young, because in society there are norms and there are legal deficiencies that make life more difficult for us because we are women or girls.”
In their interventions during the meeting, the girls called on governments to work to eradicate harmful practices against girls such as gender violence, child, early and forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation. In addition, they urged the rapporteur to work to guarantee access to quality education for all girls in the world, a robust protection system against violence against girls and protection against child labor, among other requests.
Since last June, these girls, along with approximately 100 others, met in several sessions, promoted by the global campaign La LUZ de las NIÑAS, to discuss the situation of violence suffered by girls in their countries, and around of the world, and address possible solutions and petitions to demand that their rights be respected.
After the work sessions at the local level, the girls had the opportunity to meet virtually in an international workshop, where they were able to discuss the problem of violence, exchange ideas, opinions and dreams, approaching other realities and working together for global change. . The result of this workshop was a manifesto with 11 petitions, built collaboratively by the girls themselves, in which they demand the effective international protection of the Rights of Girls.
“We all know the violence and inequalities we suffer and also the ones we have seen in other countries,” said Lamaku, a girl participant from South Sudan. “What I know is that we girls should stand together and fight together for our own survival.”
Some demands that, far from being empty paper, allowed girls from all over the world to take their cries of protest to the streets and take action. The girls, together with our partner organizations, Fe y Alegría and the Jesuit Refugee Service, presented this manifesto to different public institutions and carried out numerous advocacy events.
“It has been a path that entails many challenges but also many illusions because it has led us to realize the dreams of many girls. It has allowed us to create spaces for protection and, above all, to create awareness about the reality that girls live in our countries,” commented Sofía Gutiérrez, Head of Public Action at Fe y Alegría Guatemala.
Today has been a historic moment for La LUZ de las NIÑAS [the Light of the Girls], and, above all, recognition of the struggle of girls around the world so that their rights are respected. From the campaign, we will continue working so that, as our colleague Macarena Romero from the Entreculturas Advocacy Department stated, “the pursuit of each country to eradicate violence from public policies and institutions to guarantee quality education free of violence is continued.” for the girls”.
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