Division for the Advancement of Women

Online Discussion

Online discussion on Elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence  against the girl child -  14 August to 8 September 2006

(in pdf format)
Themes of the online discussion
Registration for the online discussion
Ground rules for the online discussion


Welcome to the UN website of the online discussion on “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”.
The online discussion, which will be conducted in English, will run for four weeks from 14 August to 8 September 2006. Each of the first three weeks of the discussion will be devoted to one theme, while the last week will provide the opportunity to raise additional issues and wrap up. You will be notified by email from the Moderator of the start of the discussion.

The purpose of the online discussion is to contribute to an understanding of the causes and consequences of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child and to identify good practices and strategies required to accelerate the elimination of these violations of the human rights of girls. Contributions to the online discussion will provide the background information to a meeting of experts convened by the Division for the Advancement of Women in collaboration with UNICEF at the UNICEF Innocenti Centre in Florence, Italy from 25 to 28 September 2006, to discuss this theme.

The online discussion and the Expert Group Meeting are part of the preparatory process for the 51st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2007, which will consider “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child” as its priority theme.

We encourage you to share your ideas and experiences as an input to further development of global policy in this area. There are two ways to participate in the discussion. You may post a message by clicking the “post message” button on the website or you may reply to the email messages sent to the group by the Moderator. The messages will remain available for viewing on the website during and after the dates of the discussion.



The issue of the girl child was firmly placed on the international agenda by the 1990 Declaration of the World Summit for Children. At the Summit, the international community acknowledged that equal rights of girls and equal participation of women in the social, cultural, economic and political life of societies were a prerequisite for successful and sustainable development. The twenty-seventh special session of the General Assembly on children recognized that the achievement of development goals for children, particularly girls, was contingent upon, inter alia, women’s empowerment.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) contain mutually reinforcing principles to ensure protection and fulfillment of the rights of girls and to end gender-based discrimination. 

The Beijing Platform for Action recognized that discrimination and violence against girls begin at the earliest stages of life and continue unabated throughout their lives. Girls often have less access to nutrition, physical and mental health care and education and enjoy fewer rights, opportunities and benefits of childhood and adolescence than boys. They are often subjected to various forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation violence and harmful practices such as female infanticide and prenatal sex selection, incest, female genital mutilation/cutting, early marriage and forced marriage.

The report of the Secretary-General on the ten-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2005 concluded that progress has been made by many countries in the advancement of the girl child, in particular in the recognition of the human rights of the girl child through the adoption of appropriate legislation, and in increasing access to primary education. It noted, however, that further efforts were needed, inter alia, to ensure equal access to secondary education and to job opportunities, to eradicate sex work by children, to ensure reintegration of the girl child after armed conflicts, and to collect data on the situation of the girl child.

The consideration of the theme of the girl child at the 51st session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2007 will bring the issue of the girl child high on the agenda of Member States of the United Nations. Informed by findings from a multitude of sources, including contributions made to this online discussion, the Commission will make concrete recommendations to accelerate the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.

Background Information in: Chinese | Russian | Spanish


Themes of the online discussion

The online discussion is scheduled to begin on 14 August 2006 and to continue for four weeks. Each of the first three weeks of the discussion will be devoted to one theme, while the last week will provide the opportunity to raise additional issues and wrap up. Please discuss achievements and remaining gaps and challenges in all areas.  Kindly also provide examples of concrete experiences, lessons learned and good practices.  The themes for the first three weeks will be as follows:

Week One: August 14 – Protection of the girl child; girls in vulnerable situations
The protection of both girls and boys from discrimination and violence is a prerequisite for their healthy development and full participation in society. Girls are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, gender-based violence, such as rape during armed conflict, as well as harmful traditional practices, early marriages and forces marriages. Some of the questions to be addressed include:

  • Based on your experience, what are the main issues concerning the protection of the girl child?
  • Are there specific groups of girls who are being left out and whose needs are not addressed, or specific issues that warrant increased attention by the international community?
  • What situations exacerbate girls’ vulnerability to discrimination and violence, and in what ways?
  • How can the effectiveness of existing legal instruments such as CEDAW and CRC in protecting girls from violence and discrimination be increased?

Week Two: 21 August – Empowerment of the girl child
The empowerment of girls is critical to the achievement of equality. Empowerment will be advanced if girls fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, if they are empowered to participate fully and equally in all spheres of society and are protected and free from all forms of violence, abuse and discrimination.   Girls’ empowerment can be enhanced through access to all levels of education; access to good quality health care and services; and equal participation with boys in all spheres of society. Girls need to be able to participate actively, effectively and equally with boys at all levels of social, economic, political and cultural leadership. Therefore, it is important to ensure that girls are given the same opportunities as boys to participate in and learn about the social, economic and political functioning of society, and take part in decision-making processes. Removing obstacles and strengthening the capacity of girls to build their self-esteem and take on leadership roles, including through the use of information technology and mechanisms such as micro-credit, are central to their empowerment.

  • Which policies, programmes and initiatives, have been successful in empowering girls?
  • What are the essential elements that need to be in place in order to ensure the empowerment of girls?
  • Which factors constrain the empowerment of girls?
  • What measures have been successful in building girls’ self-esteem?
  • How can men and boys be more effectively involved in promoting girls’ empowerment?

Week Three: 28 August – Monitoring progress; data and statistics on the girl child
Effectively measuring progress in eliminating discrimination and violence against the girl child will require increased attention to data needs, including sex and age disaggregated data. Increased data on the girl child is also needed to ensure the adequate development of policies and programmes to address their specific needs. The UN publication The World’s Women 2005: Progress in Statistics (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/products/indwm/wwpub.htm) reported a mixed record on the availability of data disaggregated by sex and age. It called for increased collaboration between international and regional organizations and agencies, national statistics offices and academic and research institutions to review concepts, definitions and methods of collecting data, including the development of appropriate indicators.

  • How can the international community work together to provide incentives for the collection of data on the girl child?
  • What are the areas of information about the girl child in which we presently have the greatest gaps?
  • Are existing indicators adequate? If not, how could they be improved?
  • In which areas is lack of data disaggregated by sex a problem?
  • What suggestions can be made for improving measurement of progress in eliminating violence and discrimination against the girl child?

Week Four: 4 September – 8 September – Other issues and wrap up

  • What issues, if any, have not been sufficiently addressed in the online discussion?
  • What are the most critical areas that need attention at the global policy level to eliminate discrimination and violence against the girl child?


Registration for the online discussion

Registration for this online discussion is closed.

Ground rules for the online discussion

The ground rules for the online discussion are the following. Messages must:

  • Be identifiable. Please include your name and organization (if any) at the end of your message. Messages without this information will not be posted;
  • Pertain to the subject of the week;
  • Be in English;
  • Be limited to three paragraphs or 500 words;
  • Have no attachments; all text has to be in the body of the posted message;
  • Contain no insulting language or statements.


Website: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations