1000 Girls campaign aimed at boosting protection for SA girls
World Vision South Africa shone the spotlight on the dire challenges that girls face when it comes to their basic human rights with the countrywide launch of the global 1000 Girls Campaign.
In the lead up to International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October 2021, WVSA aimed to inspire the sponsorship vulnerable South African girls.
With the theme My voice, our equal future, the United Nations, and a global network of stakeholders are raising awareness around the fact that in their day-to-day lives, girls are routinely and unacceptably exposed to dangers, discrimination, and disadvantages.
Gender-based violence, forced marriages, restricted access to education and women’s healthcare are some of the prevalent roadblocks that can make childhood as a girl difficult and perilous.
The 1000 Girls campaign offers a global snapshot where 64 million girls are forced into child labour; 1 in 5 girls are forced into child marriage, that’s 22 girls every minute, and two out of every three illiterate people in the world are female.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has only exacerbated gender inequality and the issue of women and girls falling into poverty and being taken out of the education system.
UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency reports drastic increases in gender-based violence, increased child marriage and unwanted pregnancies in the wake of COVID19.
According to the World Vision global office, most of the thirteen million extra child marriages predicted by UNIPA, will occur in the years immediately following the crises, with at least four million girls married in the next two years.
The practice of ukuthwala in South Africa
While South Africa has a progressive Constitution with a legal framework to prevent forced child marriages, consent of the minor is easily obtained under threat and duress. Sadly, there is a lack of diligent enforcement of the laws.
A shadowy traditional practice, known as ukuthwala still occurs, particularly in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This involves the abduction of a female in order to force her family into customary marriage negotiations, and it closely resembles forced marriages in other parts of the world and can lead to child marriages.
UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) regards the marriage of children under 18 years of age as a Human Rights violation. Child marriage robs girls of the opportunities to get an education and work and sets them up for a lifetime of poverty.
Bruce Layzell, National Director of WVSA says, “the 1000 Girls campaign highlighted that we have far to go when it comes to the protection of girls and their access to equal rights. In many South African communities, girls are simply not safe – that’s the basis of their everyday life. Our rates of domestic violence are amongst the worst in the world. It is tragic that the girl child who walks to school through her neighbourhood is under threat, but that is the reality for so many South African girls.”
Sponsoring a vulnerable South African girl through World Vision helps increases protection and supports her in achieving her potential.
The tools and resources she is able to access through the WVSA programmes sets her on a road to break free from poverty and enables her to grow up without fear.