Child Rights in Action Asia 2020

Children Beyond Gender: Identical rights, opportunities, care and respect

 

Context

In many parts of Asia, the birth of a girl child is not welcomed. Right from her arrival, she faces discrimination and subjected to oppression at every stage of life. When it comes to growth opportunities, she is neglected because of her gender. Some manage to pave new paths to follow. Most, however, surrender hopelessly to the sad fate assigned to them.

Asian society is dominated by a deeply rooted patriarchal society, placing girls and woman merely as an object tool for baring children and holding a household. In other aspects they are considered as an economic burden for their family which place their hopes of financial thrive in their boys. This way of thinking weakens the participation of women and children in family and community decision-making, especially adolescent girls. It also reduces their ability to demand fulfillment of their rights to protection against violence, child marriage, their rights to health and education.

Child marriage in South Asia reflects the dominance of patriarchal norms surrounding marriage, which view girls as objects to be “protected” or “owned” and exchanged as commodities, rather than as bearers of rights.[1] If the girl child manages to overcome health issues and gets a basic education, it is unlikely she will escape child marriage – in the region, 1 in 2 girls are married before the age of 18. Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage at 52 %, followed by India at 47 %, Nepal at 37 %, and Afghanistan at 33 %.[2] Child marriage persists as a financial survival strategy, particularly in areas with significant poverty as well as in conflicts and emergencies as a means to settle debts/family conflicts or to generate income. It’s the cause of many consequences such as sexual exploitation, non-consensual sex throughout their marriage, school dropout, early and at-risk pregnancy…

 

Child Rights in Action

The Girl child was chosen as the theme of our forum. During a week, children and adults coming from all over Asia will gather in Darjeeling.

Through educational activities they will acquire more knowledge about the topic and come up with solution to the problem Girl Children are facing. These activities include time in plenary session in which a motivational speaker can intervene, smaller discussion groups, workshops to work on a skill or a topic, playful and bonding moments. They are designed by a group of people and organizations, coming from various background throughout Asia, and in collaboration with children. This week of work is meant to enhance the participants’ skills, their confidence, to widen their network and find either the motivation to carry their own project or the solutions to problems they might be facing to carry them. The forum will reveal the strong personalities so they can become leaders in their community, raise awareness around them and act. To be a living example of children’s participation, our organizing team is made up of children bringing their real projects and issues and will be contents leaders. Participants of all ages and situations will have many opportunities to present and make contributions.

With years of experience with many examples of impact, our event will showcase how children can participate in some of the most substantive issues of the future.

We want to be part of a world where girls are celebrated. Where they are treated equally, with love and respect. A girl’s childhood must be nurtured and protected. Because she has the right to survive, be protected and participate just like anyone else.

 

[1] Gender Toolkit Integrating Gender in Programming for Every Child, UNICEF South Asia, 2018