Girls’ Rights are Human Rights: An in-depth study of the status of girls in the international human rights framework
Girls’ rights are human rights. Yet, millions of girls continue to struggle to claim their rights. Girls are disproportionally disadvantaged in education, health, work and family life – particularly in the world’s poorest countries. When factors like poverty, ethnicity or disability intersect and where gender stereotyping and unequal power relations prevail, girls’ disadvantage is magnified. However, girls deserve the full protection of their governments, and support from their families and communities. When a girl can grow up safe, happy, and healthy with full enjoyment of her rights, she can grow up to reach her full potential.
Thankfully, the international community has repeatedly promised to make gender equality a reality. It has recognized that the human rights of girls are an “inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights” – a major breakthrough incorporated in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and further explored in ICPD’s Programme of Action and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. However, in the last decade, progress has stagnated and specific focus on the girl child has shifted away. Gender- and age-neutral approaches have dominated the international agenda due to competing children’s and women’s rights discourses.
At current rates of change, it will take many more decades for girls and boys to be treated as equals. It will take more efforts to realize girls’ rights—but claiming girls’ rights starts with understanding girls’ rights. This report considers whether the international community adequately addresses girls’ lived realities in international instruments and makes recommendations to strengthen and advance girls’ rights. It is an in-depth study into the status of girls in international law, reviewing and analysing existing references to girls and their rights in over 1,300 international policy documents – covering a total period of 87 years from 1930 to 2017. It is part of a broader campaign to highlight girls’ plights and strengthen girls’ rights.