Protecting girls from violence

In many regions of the world, being a girl is a life-threatening condition. Girls are aborted or die at a young age due to neglect. Girls are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) and inhumane initiation rituals due to social norms that take time to change. Such change is possible, however, as UNICEF’s program work shows.

Niger 2017
© UNICEF/UN051532/Tremeau

The situation

The equal treatment of girls and boys is a child’s right. However, gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls is the most prevalent but least visible human rights violation in the world. It includes physical, sexual, mental or economic harm which is caused to a girl because of a socially attributed power imbalance between boys and girls. It also includes the threat of violence, coercion and deprivation of freedom in either the public or the private sphere.

Women and girls have less power than men in every society – over their bodies, their decisions and their resources. Social norms which tolerate the use of violence by men as a form of discipline and control intensify the inequality between the genders and sustain gender-based violence. All over the world, women and girls – young ones in particular – are most vulnerable.

Gender-based violence takes many forms: Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called “honor” crimes are widespread, with violence in a partnership occurring on an alarming scale in every country. Girls and woman can also experience gender-based violence by being deprived of food and education.

Protecting girls from violence

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How UNICEF helps

Social norms can be overcome, and social expectations can be changed. But this takes time, continuous work and dedicated people. UNICEF is committed to combating gender-based violence worldwide and supports projects that specifically work to empower girls:

  • Education for girls and mothers
  • Medical and psychological assistance for affected girls
  • Information and awareness campaigns
  • Enactment and enforcement of laws prohibiting gender-based discrimination
  • Data collection to better understand correlations and derive measures from them

The silence needs to be broken, because ending discrimination is to everyone’s benefit. Well-educated women with equal rights support society as a whole.

Support us in helping girls defend their rights. So that they can live, grow up carefree and develop in a way that they choose for themselves. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.