This is a guest post written by ONE Youth Ambassador Vicki McKenna.
“As a self-proclaimed feminist…” as soon as the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission, Neven Mimica, spoke we knew it would be a good event!
ONE was at the European Week of Action for Girls launch event, appropriately held on 11th October – International Day of the Girl Child. The aim of the week is to ensure that girls’ empowerment is promoted and their rights are protected.
To help raise awareness on some of the difficulties confronted by girls, there was a life-size version of the board game “Snakes and Ladders” set up outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Pay gaps, gender-based violence and lack of access to education were highlighted as some of the principle barriers and difficulties faced by women and girls.
I, along with some other Youth Ambassadors, were at the launch event to support women and girls’ empowerment as well as to hear from a great line up of speakers who provided us with the following inspirational, shocking and motivational quotes.
“No one should be left behind because she is a girl, no one should be denied access to quality education, no one should be obliged to marry at an early age, no one should be exposed to sexual violence and harmful practices. ” with this statement Commissioner Neven Mimica highlighted just some of the issues that girls face when growing up. Indeed globally, no nation provides women and girls with as many opportunities as men and boys. This needs to change and quickly.
The Commissioner further emphasised this by saying: “The list of discriminations against girls is long and they often pile up on top of each other. We simply will not achieve the Global Goals if girls are left behind. Investing in girls is not only the smart thing but the only thing to do!”
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, also focused on some of the unjust obstacles that face girls and shocked us by saying that “Every 7 seconds, a girl under 15 is married”. This horrifying stat highlighted how much still needs to be done to make sure that every girl has the same rights as boys growing up. You can find more information in Save’s ‘Every Last Girl’ report.
The speeches concluded with Dagmar Schumacher, Director of the Brussels Office of UN Women declaring that “The global goals with their timeline of 2030 cannot be achieved without an investment in girls and gender equality. The EU could become a leading force in a movement that aims to create substantial changes for girls and women and full equality by 2030.” By focussing and investing in women and girls in development programmes, the EU as well as partner organisations and countries, can really push for greater gender equality globally.
Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development speaks at the launch event.
The launch event was a great occasion to bring people together from different NGOs, the European Parliament and the European Commission and it was motivating to see so many people supporting and promoting girls’ empowerment. All of the speakers emphasised that combating barriers to girls’ inclusion and creating equality of opportunity is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Here at ONE we know that targeted investments in health, education and economic growth, could empower girls and women to lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.