One Billion Acts of Peace Issues

It is essential to bring an end to the exploitation of children, and to defend the human rights of women and girls around the world. This includes the right to education, employment, and equal opportunities. The role of women and youth as leaders, and in developing creative solutions to problems in their communities, must be fostered and encouraged.
Women and children around the world do not enjoy the same basic rights and freedoms as men. However, the problem is more than unequal rights, it is also the brutal exploitation and oppression that women and children face. Child labor, slavery or near slave conditions for women and children, forced marriages, prostitution and domestic violence are suffered by millions.

Nobel Laureate Shirn Ebadi on Rights for Women and Children, and Their Role as Leaders
“Not only is a woman a citizen, but she is also a mother who nurtures future generations. In my opinion, the conditions toward women around the world are prejudicial, but in certain places, they are worse than others. Success for women is when prejudice is removed everywhere in the world.”
Children are subject to abusive treatment the world over. In 2006, it was estimated that 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 were working. Children are bought and sold, forced into prostitution or work without pay. Besides the direct brutality of these conditions, children who are forced to work cannot go to school and so are doomed to remain poverty-stricken.

Women are also bought and sold as slaves, for labor and for the sex trade. In many countries, women do not have equal rights. Not only are they denied basic democratic rights such as the right to vote, they are banned from attending school, holding jobs, owning property or traveling by themselves. Women in some countries may be legally beaten or abused by their husbands.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement that is supposed to protect the rights of children. The two countries in the world that have not signed the agreement are Somalia and the United States. Why hasn’t the U.S. signed? Among other reasons, because the Convention says that parents should not use corporal punishment (physical violence) against their children and that governments should sentence youth under the age of 18 to life in prison. The United States also opposes the language of the Convention calling on government to ensure a basic level of economic, social, and cultural well being for children.

It is crucial that people everywhere work to ensure that all women and children can be safe and free. In addition, we must also work to cultivate and promote leadership roles for women and children in their communities. When women and children have a voice in what happens in their communities and lives, they can help make sure that their rights will continue to be protected. Women especially have shown leadership in promoting the economic growth in ways that strengthen families and communities and protect the environment.

Working for equal rights for women and children will help to improve development and reduce poverty around the world, as more people enter the paid, legal workforce. As more people are allowed to be educated, more of the workforce will become more highly skilled, which allows for a long-term positive development.

Learn More

You can learn more about rights for women and children, and their role as leaders from these sources:

Amnesty International (Women, Children)
Human Rights Watch (Women, Children)
UNICEF