July 5, 2020

Young people will deliver their own Bill of Rights to the UN

A group of young people from various countries will deliver to the United Nations on Thursday a Declaration of the Rights of Girls, a text prepared by themselves and that demands access to education, power to decide on their body and sexuality, on marriage or protection before harmful traditions.

The document will be transmitted to UN Women on the eve of the celebration of International Girls Day.

A coalition of international organizations for the rights of girls led by "She's the First" summoned more than a thousand girls and young people between 13 and 22 years old and about 40 countries to express themselves on the issues that were important to them.

The initiative, on which they worked for a year, resulted in this Declaration of ten claims, according to a statement.

The note highlights that although girls have rights, not all of them experience them in their countries: more than 130 million of them do not attend school worldwide and every seven seconds a child under 15 gets married.

It also indicates that girls spend 40% more of their time on household chores than boys do.

The Declaration states that girls have the right to free and quality education that prepares them for a modern world; equality; and participation in decision making and seeking leadership positions without fear or being discriminated against, harassed or persecuted.

It also requires the right to have documents; extensive sex education and free access to quality sexual and reproductive health; protection against harmful traditions and the enjoyment of positive cultural practices and security against all forms of violence.

Girls also demand to have the right to make decisions about their body and sexuality; protection under the law without fear or unequal treatment and the right not to be exploited.

"For a long time the world has talked about what girls need and want without asking them," said Christen Brandt, co-founder and program director of She's the First and Tammy Tibbetts, co-founder and CEO of the NGO.

"The Girls 'Bill of Rights not only describes girls' priorities but also serves as a statement that girls demand to be part of the conversations that impact them most," they said.

Among the group of young people who worked on the drafting of the Declaration was Deborah Soler, from Puerto Rico, who stressed that the document is important because the 1.1 billion girls in the world "deserve to have access to a decent life."

"The Girls' Bill of Rights provides us with the opportunity to empower our girls and young people so that we can all enjoy access to a life full of protection and opportunities," he said.

He believed that men of all ages should know about this Declaration because "they are our best allies to break the stereotypes of this society."

Soler called on the rulers and presidents of all countries to "honor each of the rights and provide opportunity for girls and young people to express their ideals in places of influence."

The organizations hope that the Declaration of the Rights of Girls will be included in the agenda of the next work meetings of UN Women.

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