Girls are the key

Across the globe women are not entitled to the same rights as men. Women suffer on a broad scale, from different pay for the same work to violence and abuse based on their gender. It is not only unfair – it prevents the development of societies all over the world. Societies where fundamental human rights are the same for men as women will be more likely to develop and prosper, and research made into strengthen girls and women’s rights and possibilities will give even more in return.

Bangladesh is a one of many countries where girls are particularly vulnerable. What is perhaps most known to us living outside the country are the acid attacks – a rather extreme example but nevertheless not uncommon. It is an expression of a broad and structural discrimination of women in a country where girls are exposed to forced marriage, honor crimes, and sexual harassment.

The latter goes under the name Eve Teasing in Bangladesh. It derives from Eve in the Bible, where the girl is considered sexually teasing and a tempting. According to this way of thinking one puts all the blame on the girl instead of the perpetrator. In other words victim suffers the blame rather than the person guilty of the harassment or crime.

The sexual harassments mostly take place on the way to school. NINE OUT OF TEN GIRLS HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO SEXUAL HARRASSMENT ON THEIR WAY TO SCHOOL. In later years sexual harassments on the street has been criminalized. The law has had some impact, as it is not as common with open harassments on the street anymore but the problems are still many. In a study made by ActionAid Bangladesh the attitude among parents become visible; three out of four parents would consider interrupting their daughter’s education as a prevention should she be harassed on her way to school.

Another thing that severely decreases girls’ options to prosper and own their future in developing countries is that many girls are forced to marry. IN BANGLADESH TWO OUT OF THREE GIRLS ARE MARRIED BEFORE THEY TURN 18.
It is also very common that girls in developing countries that leave school prematurely give birth early. Giving birth as a child is very dangerously. A girl under 15 is running a five times higher risk to die giving birth then a woman over 20.
A woman who deliver fewer and healthier babies are more likely to remain in good health.

IN BANGLADESH ONLY EVERY OTHER GIRL FINISHES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. This makes them weaker. For every year a girl in a developing country stays in secondary and upper secondary school her future income will increase with 10 to 20 per cent. With the opportunity to self-support comes not only the chance to move herself out of poverty, but also her children. Almost everything she earns as a grown up will get reinvested in her family; their health, education and future.

In order to create change; face honour standards, strengthen human rights and make gender discrimination visible we need to roll up our sleeves. And most importantly we need men to roll up their sleeves. We need to challenge and change values, create and maintain new laws. In the long-run whole communities prosperity could improve greatly if we support the girls within these communities. THE GIRLS ARE THE KEY.

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