Today is the International Day of the Girl Child. Five months ago, nearly 300 Nigerian girls were abducted from their dormitories in a school in the northeastern town of Chibok. Boko Haram, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the abduction and said that they sold the girls as child brides. Today, most of the girls are still in captivity and global cries to help them are intermittent at best. We must not lose momentum. Every year, 150 million adolescent girls experience rape and sexual violence, and 14 million girls are sold into marriage. At times, we may feel helpless or without a voice - but we must not lose hope. The road to ending the scourge of violence against girls is long, but the battle can be won if we stand together in solidarity with other youth, civil society, governments, and the United Nations.
When an adolescent girl experiences violence, her choices and opportunities are limited. The effects of violence can endure throughout her lifetime and be passed on to future generations. In most communities, women are vital economic actors. When girls are threatened by conflict and violence, they are unable to support their families and the economy. In poor and rural villages, this is devastating. Youth to End Sexual Violence joins the United Nations in the fight to end the cycle of violence against adolescent girls. We must empower girls with the knowledge, skills, resources, and options they need to reach their full potential.
On this International Day of the Girl Child, let us remember the girls affected by violence. Let us remember the Chibok girls who were forcibly taken from their school and sold into marriage. It's time to #EndTheSilence, and keep the momentum going for generations to come.