The Girl Child

The only job a girl should have is to go to school."Martín Garcia Moritán, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations in New York

March 14, 2018

Left to right front: Sister Marinez, Marin, Miyu, Nathália, Sofia, Luiza, Second row: Lorena, Sister Eileen, Elisabeth, Angela, Charlotte, Meagan, Sandra, Sister Carolyn

As the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women continues, there are many conversations about the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing, China, in 1995. This conference produced the Platform for Action that details the fourteen areas that need to be addressed to achieve gender equality.

Sister Eileen Reilly leads the student delegation in a discussion about the difficulties faced by girls around the world and the inroads being made on this topic.

The last of those fourteen points is titled "The Girl Child." Here, for the first time in a United Nations (U.N.) document, the unique needs of girls were addressed in very concrete ways. The document names issues such as early marriage, discrimination in access to education and harmful cultural practices.

Because of this platform, girls and their needs are now part of many U.N. discussions. As our SSND delegation shared their experiences this week they talked about the challenges that continue to face girls around the world: 

  • Obstacles such as school fees and pregnancy that keep girls out of school.
  • The fact that discrimination against girls is found in every area of our world.
  • Early and forced marriage that continues despite laws that forbids it.
  • The high incidence of sexual exploitation and trafficking for girls.

There is good news

Despite the challenges faced by girls, there is also good news. The students noted:  

  • The availability of programs that provide skills training that allows girls to find employment.
  • A campaign in Canada called "It's Never Okay" that addresses violence against women and girls.
  • A growing sensitivity to the need for sanitary supplies for girls.
  • The establishment of "Spotlight," a program of collaboration between the European Union and the U.N.  to openly discuss violence against women and girls so the problems can be addressed.

As the U.N. continues to address the needs of "The Girl Child", the importance of education continues to be a critical element in the conversations at the U.N. Removing the barriers that prevent girls from going to and staying in school will continue to be a priority. The SSND student delegation will take with them this pointed synopsis by the Ambassador of Argentina, "The only job a girl should have is to go to school."


Elisabeth is from Vienna, Austria. In her free time, she enjoys reading, singing and watching Netflix. Her favorite subjects in school are Latin and history.

Miyu is an 18 year old student from Kyoto, Japan. She hopes to study international law at the university level. She is passionate about social justice issues and has a dream of someday working at the United Nations.