pending agenda for guaranteeing children’s rights

In the international framework of International Day of the Girl, it is essential to insist on the need to protect children’s rights in Mexico and the rest of the world. Especially in terms of access to education, health care, recreation and the continuation of child labor and other practices such as forced marriage and domestic and sexual violence.

Access to education and healthcare

One of the fundamental rights whose access creates large gaps of inequalities is that of education. Girls in particular face barriers to effectively accessing this fundamental right.

In Mexico, girls and adolescents still drop out of school or report lower academic achievement due to gender, such as myths about menstruation, unwanted pregnancy, domestic violence or due to being overwhelmed with housework or caring for third parties.

According to Coneval data, 12% of teenagers left school because they got married or had a union, and another 11% got pregnant or had a child.

Lack of economic resources is another of the main factors that have a greater impact on girlsespecially those who live in rural communities or are in neighborhoods affected by insecurity.

At the latest cut in Mexico, 6.1 percent of girls between the ages of 8 and 11 who live in rural areas do not know how to read or write. For urban communities, the figure drops to 2.7 percent.

On the other hand, access to the basic right to health is not a reality for all boys and girls in this country: 3 out of 10 people under the age of 17 are not covered by medical and hospital services.

The total amount of girls, boys and teenagers not connected to INSABI, public social security institutions or private services increased from 5.6 million in 2018 to 10.2 million in 2020.

child work

One of the most persistent violations of the rights of minors is forced labor which also has a gender bias, while thousands of girls work in economic sectors, they also face an overload of domestic labor (paid and unpaid).

There are 1.3 million girls between the ages of 5 and 17 engaged in child labor in Mexico, according to National Child Labor Survey (ENTI) of Inegi.

Half of the girls and adolescents who work have as their main reason: the need for extra income at home or the need for money to pay for school and other expenses.

Just over 50% of girls in a child labor situation were also faced with working days of up to 14 hours with a perception of income as a maximum minimum wage.

The figures show how the most vulnerable girls, socio-economically and geographically, are the ones on the front lines of exposure to child labour, so closing these gaps is essential to eradicating the practice.

Forced marriage and violence

Although the home may be thought to be the safest place for minors, in many cases this is not the case. Millions of boys and girls in the country face emotional, physical and even sexual abuse in their homes or places associated with family and their immediate circle.

About 5 million minors suffer sexual violence each year and more than half of these attacks occur in homes. In addition, nearly 60% was violence perpetrated by a family member.

Girls are more vulnerable. In some communities in the country, there are still cases of forced marriages or “exchanges” of girls and adolescents for paid domestic work.

In Mexico, 4 out of every 100 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are married or in a union. In addition, 20% of women between the ages of 20 and 24 report having their first union while they were minors, according to data from Inegi’s National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (Enadid).

Some reports carried out in communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca show how in these places fathers and mothers “sell” their underage daughters to marry older men or for other families to take them to the cities and be their servants .

These and other forms of violence deprive girls of the opportunity to experience their own childhood and adolescents in the full exercise of their rights and determine much of what their lives will be like in adulthood.

It is necessary and urgent to develop public policies with an intersectoral perspective that guarantee all minors a life free from violence, discrimination and marginalization.

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