International Day of the Girl: An Overview of Colombia 2022 – Women – Life

“We are the women who give birth to human capital, the ones who nurture and educate it. There can be no complete peace if public policies, resources, education, training, protection and promotion of rights are not focused on each and every one of the Colombian girls. With these words, Ximena Norato, Director of Pandi, Communication and Human Rights, warns about a disheartening panorama of the girls’ lives in Colombia.

And the numbers prove it. From January to August this year, 12,679 alleged sexual offenses against girls and boys between the ages of zero and 19 were recorded. according to preliminary data from Legal Medicine. For its part, the Juvenile Police reported 15,602 cases of this nature so far this year.

Births by maternal age groups. Source: DAN.

They are the victims of close to 80 percent of these attackswhich in more than half of the cases were committed by a family member or in their own home, according to the report sexual abuse of children and adolescents of the Alliance for Colombian Children.

Gustavo Quintero, vice president of the Plan Foundation, explains that one of the most critical data on the reality of girls and adolescents in Colombia is childbirth, as his report “A Country for Girls”, which will be published at the end of the month, reveals that 4,726 minors went through this procedure in 2021.

“This is sexual abuse. A typical crime is having a relationship with a minor under the age of 14, and no one attaches importance to it or determines the seriousness of what it means. Between 2015 and 2021, there were more than 35,000 births to children under the age of 14, and they have a very high maternal mortality rate. It also causes them to drop out of education, which is why the rate is much higher than that of boys,” warns Quintero.

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“In Colombia
there is a correlation between departments with more early unions and the multidimensional poverty index”.

This means that before the law, girls were victims of violent sexual acts, which would have given them access to a Voluntary termination of pregnancybut health difficulties are another factor that adds to the list of problems for minors: they end up becoming mothers at an age where their educational process is interrupted and the possibility of breaking the cycle of poverty, says Andrea Tage Montagna, gender and development officer on United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Colombia.

“Incredibly, 68 out of 100 girls or boys have a mother whose highest level of education is high school, but within that data, the truth is that of that percentage, 33 percent have not even completed that level of education. This means that they are most likely to be left behind educationally and professionally. And the backlog is accumulated by their children,” adds Norato.

Figures that today are placed on the table in honor of tenth anniversary of the International Day of the Girl, whose aim is to highlight the problems that differently affect minors around the world and thus take decisions that guarantee them optimal conditions for growth and development.

Marriage and early unions: normalized risk

International Day of the Girl: Colombia 2022 at a Glance

Child pregnancy by father’s age: Data shows that men between the ages of 14 and 19 are the most likely to impregnate underage girls.

For this date, Unicef ​​put a spotlight on early marriages and unions between girls and adolescents with usually older men, a problem that has implications for women’s personal development.

“What we can guarantee is that in Colombia there is a correspondence between the departments with more early unions and the multidimensional poverty index, as is the case with Vichada, Amazonas, Choco, La Guajira and Choco which according to the 2018 census have the highest number of marriages and early unions. Early unions predominate, we don’t talk so much about marriages, and they are areas that are characterized by a lack of a service network or a strong institutional framework, which means that these girls are much more exposed to multiple opportunities and gender role reproduction , about being a woman, a mother and a wife,” Tague explains.

The Unicef ​​report, “Situation Analysis of Child Marriage and Early Unions in Colombia,” says that in these relationships with older men, girls and adolescents are forced to take care of the household, exposing them to conditions of dependence on their partner.

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Right in the middle of developing these vital activities is when they are victims of abuse (33 percent of cases), according to the report, which covers the period from 2015 to 2019 by Masatugó, a five-year publication of Legal medicine on injuries of external cause in women.

“It affects them today and in the future, they are young mothers, alone, and this poverty is reproduced in their homes.” This is why we question the asymmetry of power between the adult man and the girl and the loss of autonomy and their rights. Can she decide if she wants to have children, how many, or if she wants to study?” asks Unicef’s gender and development officer.

A differential approach

Quintero mentions that in order to guarantee the enjoyment of childhood and the possibilities of building a life project, The first thing we need to do as a society is understand that girls and boys face different challenges.

“The starting point between a boy and a girl is not the same. Why do data on school and childhood well-being show that there are many more men playing sports? Is it because there is a biological preference or because the public space is very violent with women? From these issues with a gender perspective, the very work of the government begins. We need to understand the realities and how public policy can be done to reconcile these differences.”

Similarly, Teig affirms that they face different challenges of being women and this cannot be denied.

“They suffer more sexual abuse in all situations, they suffer the effects of an early union.” Managing menstrual hygiene is a challenge in schools and in areas that don’t even have access to potable water. In migration, for example, a girl’s life is affected differently because she is a woman. Special efforts must be made for them, but if we don’t have the data it is more difficult”, he concludes.

The United Nations emphasizes in its message for this date that if women receive effective support during adolescence and childhood, “they have the potential to change the world as empowered girls as workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, heads of households and political leaders . tomorrow”.


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