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Girls’ education: Committee on Rights of the Child stresses importance of practical help

For International Day of the Girl Child

11 October 2013

GENEVA (11 October 2013) - The right to education is crucial in empowering girls, the Committe on the Rights of the Child has stressed in remarks to commemorate International Day of the Gilrd Child on 11 October, 2013.

The Committee, through its work of examining how states implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, sees clearly how the right to education is closely linked to other rights. If there is pervasive discrimination against girls and women in a society, girls’ education is considered less important and girls drop out of school.

The Committee continually reminds states of their obligation to combat persistent patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes and practices that perpetuate the discrimination of girls. Campaigns to promote greater recognition of the value of girls are welcomed, which in the long run will serve to fulfil girls’ right to education.

A low marriage age for girls and teenage pregnancy are two of the most common reasons why girls drop out of school. In some countries married girls are not allowed to go to school with other children, but are transferred to evening classes. Pregnant adolescents are often forced out of school, and if they are not, they may not get the support and follow-up that they need to continue their schooling. Raising the marriage age for girls to 18 years and preventing teenage pregnancies are important steps to ensure fulfilment of the right to education.

Still, whenever a girl is married or pregnant, the government has an obligation to let her continue her education together with other children and with the support she needs.

Even more practical measures may help to keep girls in school. Many girls do not go to school during menstrual periods because there are no proper toilets or because they do not have access to sanitary towels. The government should ensure that such facilities are provided. They are not costly and it is more a question of priority than of insufficient resources.

Curricula, supportive teachers, transport to and from schools are central issues that are addressed by the Committee. However, girls’ right to education will not be fulfilled in practice without the fulfilment of their other rights as well.