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The Fight for Children's Rights 

Eliana Borba

One of the problems that UNICEF is actively working on is children's rights, and gender equality. UNICEF addresses issues involving human trafficking, child marriages, access to education, and sexual assault. While many developed nations have made great headway in the last 50 years, there is still a large majority of women who have yet to overcome institutional barriers. Due to the fact that gender inequality is omnipresent in society UNICEF strives to give both boys and girls equal opportunities and access to basic needs and to protect them from harm.

Human trafficking

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime the percentage of child victims in human trafficking rose 3 percent in 2012. The UNODC also states that for every three children that are taken into the industry of trafficking two of them are girls and one of them is a boy. In recent years human trafficking has surpassed the sale of illegal arms, and will soon surpass that of illegal drug sale if it continues to grow as it has been.

Child marriage

According to UNICEF data released in 2014 more than one in three girls in the world today were married before they reached the age of fifteen. The problem with child marriage is that in some countries and cultures it is perceived as normal and right for the family to marry ther young daughter off to an older man. With marriage comes household and wifely responsibilities which leads to the girls having to give up their educations to fulfill such responsibilities. Teenage girls who marry young are more likely to experience domestic violence and to experience complications in childbirth. After childbirth infant mortality is 60 percent greater when the mother is under the age of 18. Child marriage can also cause psychological harm to the young girls affected.

Access to education

In the world today there are around 59 million children who are denied access to education, and while it is a problem for both genders, girls are impacted slightly more than their counterparts. In Sub-Saharan Africa, out of all the children who are not receiving an education, 55 percent of them are girls. The lack of access to proper education for this large part of the population can be cited as a reason for why there is a lack of female representation in government, scientific fields, and other predominantly male fields.

Sexual assault

In 2014 UNICEF held a study on sexual assault which heralded the results that about 1 in every 10 girls under the age of 20 have been subject to forced sexual intercourse or any other forced sexual act in their lives. More often than not the police, and even society, work to blame victims of sexual assault, rather than support and help her. For example, there are instances in which drug possession has caused a longer sentence than a sexual assault charge. In developing countries, such as Sudan, there are more problems regarding sexual assault that women and girls have to worry about. In areas such as these rape is used as a weapon of war between conflicting groups of people. The use of the rape of a woman as a way to one up a male opponent is fundamentally based in gender discrimination. If women are not seen as being on the same level as men they are susceptible to horrible violations of human rights such as rape. Despite the fact that FGM can lead to further physical injury due to infection and even death it is still considered a social norm in many countries today. According to a report released by UNICEF, at least 200 million women and girls have experienced FGM.

What UNICEF does to help

UNICEF has been fighting to protect the rights of children and women since it’s formation and continues to do so today. To battle all of the problems outlined in this article UNICEF is working closely with various governments, non-governmental organizations and development partners. In the fight for children's rights and gender equality UNICEF is just as dedicated and hardworking. They seek to mainstream gender equality not just for women but for men as well. Despite the progress that has been made for the issue of gender equality so far there is still a lot of work to do.

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