11 October 2013
International Day of the Girl Child
Sen.Pia urges support for the ‘Girl Declaration’
Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said the government should look into the situation of Filipino adolescent girls who are exposed to poverty and various forms of abuse and discrimination on the occasion of the ‘International Day of the Girl Child,’ which is marked every October 11th.
“There is a reason why the attention of government leaders and citizens is being called specifically to the plight of adolescent girls. In the Philippines and in most developing countries, adolescent girls are subjected to a variety of unfavorable and hostile conditions on account of their age and gender,” said Cayetano.
“These include domestic and sexual violence, prostitution, gender-based discrimination, human trafficking, and being forced into early marriage. They have poor access to education, livelihood opportunities and health services, such as age-appropriate reproductive health information and services.”
She said a review of basic indicators would show how Filipino adolescent girls, whose ages range from 10 to 19 years old and number around 10 million, have been marginalized.
“Perhaps the most graphic indicator of the state of the Filipino girl child today is our high teenage pregnancy rate,” the senator stressed.
Citing data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), Cayetano pointed out that the number of live births among teen mothers has increased by 60 percent between 2000 and 2010. Similarly, the number of teen moms who gave birth to their second, third, fourth and even fifth child, also increased during this period.
Equally disturbing, she added, is the rising number of maternal deaths among teen mothers. Teen maternal deaths made up five percent of total maternal deaths in 2000. But by 2010, teen maternal deaths have risen to ten percent of total maternal deaths.
She also noted the findings of the Family Health Survey in 2011 showing that women who became mothers in their teens were also less likely to finish their education.
“All these indicators add up: The low investments we place on education, health and other basic services feed a cycle of suffering and poverty where adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable and carry the heaviest burden.”
The senator added that there is a snowballing call around the world for governments to give specific attention to the plight of adolescent girls.
The call is summed up in the ‘Girl Declaration,’ which is being pushed by advocates of the rights and welfare of adolescent girls.
“Adolescent girls must not remain invisible to the eyes of policymakers. Specific attention should be given to their needs and concerns in development programs and poverty reduction strategies,” stressed the senator, who is one of the signatories of the landmark declaration.
The ‘Girl Declaration,’ which was based on inputs from adolescent girls from poor communities in 14 countries across four continents asserts that girls should have unbridled access to education, health, safety, economic security and citizenship rights.
The declaration will be formally handed over to the United Nations through secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon on October 11. #
Note: Full text and details about the ‘Girl Declaration’ are posted online: http://www.girleffect.org/2015-beyond/the-declaration/
[File Photo] Sen. Pia Cayetano with young girls at a recent relief operation in Taguig City. (2013)