Zuma calls for young girl children to be taught their rights
"It is through education that we can help to empower them so that they can make their own independent decisions on the lives that they want to lead."
President Jacob Zuma today wishes all girl-children a happy and memorable International Day of the Girl Child.
On 17 November 2011, the Third Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations agreed to designate 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child to be observed every year beginning in 2012.
The problem of Early Child Marriages has been adopted as the major theme to commemorate the inaugural event this year. This decision was based on the evidence that Early Child Marriage curtails the bright future of many young girls as they are forced to become young brides rather than further their studies or careers. The practice is a devastating human rights violation that robs many girls of their childhood, education, health and future.
President Jacob Zuma said this is indeed a day we should use to reflect on such social challenges that girl children are faced with as they grow. In addition to forced early child marriages, young girls also contend with facing tragic incidents such as rape and sexual abuses sometimes from close family members as well as incest.
"Young children must have a right to decide their own future. It is through education that we can help to empower them so that they can make their own independent decisions on the lives that they want to lead. When children drop out of school early it often leads to teenage pregnancies and life threatening risks such as HIV infections and other sexual and reproductive diseases, which prevents them from fulfilling their dreams. In most instances it also prevents these young girls from breaking from a cycle of poverty that they have become entrenched in," said President Zuma.
President Zuma urged government, civil society and families in general to play a part in nurturing young girls so that they realise their full potential and have prosperous futures.