Friday was International Day of the Girl Child, established in 2012 to honor and observe the rights of girls everywhere, who represent the hope and future of their families, communities and nations, yet face countless rights violations such as violence and harassment, female genital mutilation and child marriage, which claims 15 million girls each year in the developing world.
Our culture's current lack of understanding of women as full human beings must evolve into a conviction that indivisible rights include freedom from unfettered male sexual access, from female genital mutilation to child marriage; from reproductive health to sexual violence; from sexual harassment to prostitution. Achieving equality depends on it.
The world must take action where governments and communities have failed our girls. They deserve to live and not to die in childbirth. They deserve to thrive and live healthy lives. Above all, we must protect these girls so that they live a life free of violence, abuse and stigma and can raise healthy children.
Malawi outlawed child marriage last week. Following more than five years of undaunted advocacy by Malawian girls, their allies and civil society leaders, the country's Parliament tabled and passed the "Marriage, Divorce, and Family Relations Bill," increasing the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 years.