UNICEF NEWS: 10 October 2014

Day of the Girl 2014: Breaking the cycle of violence against girls

To mark International Day of the Girl 2014 (Saturday,11 October), UNICEF New Zealand and Youth for UN Women are hosting an art installation and public event in Wellington focused on empowering adolescent girls and breaking the cycle of violence often perpetrated against them.

Vivien Maidaborn, Executive Director at UNICEF New Zealand, said of the event, “International Day of the Girl presents a valuable opportunity to focus on the discrimination and many inequalities that still exist for girls and young women worldwide.” 

Among the most disturbing ways to diminish a girl is through violence. Violence against girls is pervasive - cutting across geography, age, class and ethnicity. 

Girls experience violence at the hands of peers, teachers, family members and strangers; and in their homes, schools, communities and online. As challenging as the reality is for girls in stable contexts, natural disasters and conflicts compound the risk of violence, especially as protective systems and family structures break down.

“Of great concern to UNICEF is the recent research that shows one in four girls aged 15-19 worldwide (approximately 70 million), report being victims of some form of physical violence since age 15. This is simply unacceptable and here in New Zealand we must do everything we can to play our part in breaking the cycle of violence against girls,” Ms Maidaborn added. 

The same UNICEF statistical analysis of violence against children, (Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, 2014) found that globally, adolescent girls encounter physical, sexual, emotional and psychological aggression in striking proportions.

In order to illustrate the far reaching effects of gender-based violence, young women from various backgrounds will speak at the Wellington event to share their unique perspectives on ending violence against adolescent girls:

Sarah Morris – International Advocacy Manager, UNICEF New Zealand – will speak about the UNICEF #ENDViolence campaign to make visible the violence that hides in plain sight in our societies.

Dawape Giwa-Isekeije – 17yrs, Wellington Girls College student from Nigeria/Canada – will talk about the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and how 6 months on from the abduction of the 234 Chibok girls in Nigeria we need to move on from social media action to practical action.

Kesaya Baba – Volunteer Services Abroad – will talk about empowering adolescent girls in the Pacific with a focus on service delivery for physical and mental health.

Pollyanne Pena – Organisational Development Coordinator for Shakti in Wellington – will talk about the practical implications of forced and under-aged marriage for migrant children in New Zealand and what our legal and policy responses to this issue have been. 

This event is part of UNICEF’s #ENDviolence initiative echoing the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, and supports UNICEF’s position in the ongoing debate around the post-2015 development agenda. 

Ms Maidaborn added, “Physical, emotional and psychological violence against girls is entirely preventable when people come together and say that it is not acceptable. 

“UNICEF’s #ENDViolence campaign aims to make visible the violence that hides in plain sight and hinders girls’ potential. In New Zealand we can act to end violence by learning about the issues, talking about problems and solutions in our communities and calling for help if we experience or witness violence.

“If you see violent acts or suspect violence is happening, take action and call 111. If you are worried about a child and don't want to give your name or theirs, you can phone 0508 FAMILY for some ideas about what to do to help,” Ms Maidaborn concluded. 

Day of the Girl 2014- Breaking the cycle of violence against girls

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