International Day of Girl Child
11 October is the International Day of Girl Child. Celebration of this day is aimed at recognizing and protecting girls' rights, promoting their education and strengthening their capacity, as well as raising public awareness of different types of oppression and discrimination that girls face every day in different countries, including Georgia.
It is important to realize the role of women in the future development of the country and to recognize the existing inequalities which girls have to live with. Unfortunately, access to due education, health care and other resources is still low. At the same time, important part of juveniles lives in poverty and poor social conditions.
Millions of girls drop out of schools each year because of early marriage, which hinders their development. Prevention of this practice is one of the main priorities of the Public Defender's Office. In 2015-2016 the Department of Gender Equality of the Public Defender's Office held a number of information meetings in schools both with schoolchildren and their parents, which enables us to evaluate the level of public awareness in this field. In many cases, even professionals working with children cannot understand the damage that can be caused by early marriage both in terms of education and health.
Unfortunately, cases of forced engagement and marriage are still widespread. The main challenge is the lack of awareness and wrong views existing in the society. It is important to correct the deficiencies in the delivery of services and to solve the problem of inefficient response.
Gender-based sex selection, when families give preference to sons due to the stereotypical attitudes and discriminatory practices, is till a problem in Georgia. As a result, fewer girls are born each year.
It is necessary the state to pay particular attention to integration of equality principles at all stages of formation and implementation of the youth policy. It is also important to teach gender equality at schools and to make it an essential part of the learning process.
The Public Defender reiterates his support and underlines the importance of this day. He calls on the authorities to take effective steps to eliminate gender inequality in the country and to increase opportunities for girls.