GIRL SUMMIT 2014: A PLEDGE TOWARDS EQUALITY
The UK Government and UNICEF hosted the world’s first Girl Summit today on 22 July 2014, aiming to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and to end child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation.
Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and achieve their potential, but millions are being prevented from doing so by harmful practices such as FGM and CEFM.
CEFM occurs in every part of the world, affecting millions of girls every year. 1 in 3 girls in developing countries is married by the age of 18, and 1 in 9 by the age of 15. Some are as young as 8.
Girls who marry young have babies while still children, putting them at risk of death or suffering for the rest of their lives. They are more likely to be poor and stay poor. In the UK, hundreds of girls risk being forced into marriage, violating their human rights. Forced marriage victims can suffer physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse.
FGM removes a girl’s right to have control over her own body. It is an extreme and violent way in which girls and women are controlled and disempowered, and can result in a lifetime of pain, psychological problems and difficulty in childbirth. Current trends suggest that at least 30 million girls will be at risk over the next decade - with more than 20,000 at risk in the UK every year.
Today’s Summit, which took place in London, brought together women, girls and community leaders from the UK and abroad - alongside governments, international organisations and the private sector - to agree on action to end FGM and CEFM within a generation.
David Cameron spoke at the Summit and confirmed the UK’s commitment to ending these harmful practices. Pointing out that Britain does not have any ‘special magic’, he asked the international community to join the UK in this global effort:
It is absolutely clear about what we are trying to achieve, it is such a simple but noble and good ambition, and that is to outlaw the practices of female genital mutilation (FGM) and childhood and early forced marriage, to outlaw them everywhere, for everyone within this generation.
The Summit saw the launch of an an international charter that calls for the eradication of these practices within a generation. 21 countries have signed this charter.
Domestic acts that address these practices in England and Wales were also introduced today:
- a £1.4 million FGM Prevention Programme, launched in partnership with NHS England to help care for survivors and safeguard those at risk
- new legislation that will mean parents can be prosecuted if they fail to prevent their daughter being cut
- new legislation to grant victims of FGM lifelong anonymity from the time an allegation is made
Stressing the importance of tackling FGM and CEFM, Cameron iterated:
All girls have the right to live free from violence and coercion, without being forced into marriage or the lifelong physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation. Abhorrent practices like these, no matter how deeply rooted in societies, violate the rights of girls and women across the world, including here in the UK.
You can take the pledge to end FGM and CEFM here: http://www.girlsummitpledge.com/
Read more about the Girl Summit here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/girl-summit-2014