JEDDAH: The closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to gender inequality, according to the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
October 11 was observed as the International Day of the Girl Child, which the UN first declared in 2012, and recognizes girls’ rights and the challenges they face worldwide.
The IPHRC, an expert body with advisory capacity that also works independently in the area of human rights, joined other agencies and civil societies to celebrate the day under the theme “Digital generation. Our generation.” It also called on the international community to further its efforts in protecting young girls from all forms of vulnerability caused by gender bias, especially ones exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement released by the commission said the pandemic accelerated the exploitation of digital platforms for learning, earning, and communication. Approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide under the age of 25 do not have internet access at home, with girls making up the majority. This also leaves millions of children waiting to resume school after the pandemic.
The gap between internet users for both genders has widened in the past few years globally, going from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019. There is an even wider margin in the least developed countries where the proportion has reached 43 percent.
The commission said these figures negatively impact achieving gender equality and digital literacy — two essential factors in driving economic growth and competitiveness. The commission also said achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals will remain an empty task without adequately addressing the inequalities facing young girls.
The commission wants governments to ensure that young girls have access to education, health care, and it wants governments to prioritize further recovery efforts. If this can be achieved, the commission said, in return, young girls will contribute to strengthening the social and economic status of the community and further contribute to long-term social stability.
The commission commended the efforts made by various Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries and called on all nations to fulfill their obligations under the OIC charter, and their 10-year action plan until 2025, for the advancement of women.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs adopted by world leaders in 2015 embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one left behind.
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