Getting Girls Equals: The African Report on Girls and the Law

Theme:
  • Children and the Law
Pages: 181
Year of Publication: 2019
Country: Africa

Nearly 30 years on from the adoption of the African Children’s Charter – or the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child – Africa has enjoyed progressive law and policy reforms in the field of child rights that have resulted in improvements in the status and wellbeing of children across Africa, including girls. Yet girls in Africa still face rights violations on a daily basis, both as females and as children, finding themselves at the intersection of the vulnerabilities of age and gender. Millions continue to suffer marginalisation, discrimination, exploitation and deprivation, and a host of other intersecting challenges. Girls everywhere are given far less value, respect and worth than boys. Offline and online, in and around schools, in the market place, at home, in institutions and in other settings, girls are victims of sexual exploitation. All sorts of harmful practices that run counter to their human dignity are perpetrated against them in the name of culture and tradition. When victimised by violations of their rights, gender-based judicial discrimination means they find it difficult to access justice. Girls are the first and worst affected in conflict situations: the first to be abducted and be held captive as sexual slaves, and the first to be displaced and deprived of their basic needs. Despite improvements in ensuring access to primary education, access to and/or retention at the secondary school level leaves much to be desired. Girls and women are invisible in public policy discourses related to inheritance and nationality rights – though they are blatantly denied rights to inherit by customary laws and obsolete formal laws. Even among girls, certain groups are disproportionately marginalised and excluded, especially girls with disabilities, girls in domestic work, girls living in rural areas and urban slums, girls living or working on the street, and others. These groups are almost always deprived of state, community and family protection, and hence suffer multiple overlapping rights violations across different settings. At the level of international norm-setting, the deafening silence within human rights norms regarding the need to address the rights of girls explicitly and directly has led to a situation where their issues are relegated to the child rights domain by women’s groups, and to that of women’s issues by children’s groups. Via this unconscionable double jeopardy, girls fall through the cracks in the agendas of both child rights programming and women’s gender equality. Africa’s renaissance can only be achieved in a continent where both boys and girls matter, and matter equally.

Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) & Plan International
Located in: Publications
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