Expert Dialogue “The Future of Girls' Rights”

6 October 2015 | BMZ Berlin, Germany

“Education is the key driving force.”

On October 11, 2015, Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for International Cooperation and Development, and Plan International Deutschland co-hosted an expert dialogue on “The Future of Girls' Rights” to celebrate the International Day of the Girl. The event was organized by the GIZ's Development Policy Forum. It raised awareness of the serious human rights violations girls are often subjected to around the world.

A group of young men and women joined the audience of experts from politics, the scientific community and the field. They opened the event by offering insight into how young men and boys could help eliminate discrimination against women and girls.

State Secretary Silberhorn emphasised that the inclusion of gender equality as one of the 17 goals in the recently passed Agenda 2030 was tangible proof of how seriously the global community viewed the issue. Girls experienced discrimination from the moment of birth, Silberhorn added, and were often barred from choosing their own paths in life. Around the world, girls were denied access to education and sufficient medical care, he noted, lived with the threat of sexual abuse, and were often forced into marriage very young.

Thomas Silberhorn called education the most important driving force for empowering women and girls to live self-determined lives. At the G7 Summit this year, a proposal was passed to increase vocational training opportunities for women and girls by a third. The State Secretary assured the audience that promoting and ensuring human rights would continue to be a fundamental principle of German development cooperation policy. Silberhorn went on to add: “Women's status in society is a good indicator of a country's level of development.”

Rubeena Esmail-Arnd, Head of the GIZ's Preventing Youth Violence in Central America (PREVENIR) project talked about her work strengthening the rights of women and girls. Esmail-Arnd stressed the need for a lasting, concerted effort to change social attitudes towards girls, adding that interdepartmental cooperation would help lock in improvements partner countries.

Managing Director of Plan International Deutschland, Maike Röttger, rounded out the event by presented the Plan's “The Unfinished Business' of Girls Rights” report on the global situation of girls. Röttger said: “The United Nations have declared strengthening the rights of women and girls one of the most pressing objectives of the new sustainability and development goals. This will only happen if we all pull together and work to eliminate the forced marriage of women and girls, and physical violence like female genital mutilation. We have to ensure equal participation for girls.” She called on the German government to anchor promoting gender equality as a fundamental principle of German development policy and to provide the needed funding for projects to protect and empower women and girls.

Together with State Secretary Silberhorn, actor Marion Kracht, an ambassador for Plan's “Because I am a Girl” campaign for many years, symbolically flipped the switch on a national lighting campaign in honour of International Day of the Girl that bathed the Development Ministry in a bright, pink light. On October 11, 20015, around 50 prominent buildings and landmarks will be illuminated in pink to mark the occasion.

Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary at the BMZ. Photo: Marc Darchinger.

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