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Every day, hundreds of thousands of GIRLS around the world are harmed physically or psychologically, or both, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities. The impact ripples throughout society, reinforcing gender stereotypes and inequalities. The scope of harmful practices is vast, but three in particular have been almost universally denounced as human rights violations yet remain stubbornly widespread: female genital mutilation, child marriage and son preference.
These practices cross borders and cultures. They vary in the specifics of their execution—a girl may have her genitals cut in infancy or adolescence, she may be married off to “protect” her from rape or as part of a trade, she may be erased before birth or
neglected to death after. But these practices are alike in origin; they are rooted in gender inequality and a desire to control female sexuality and reproduction. Though they inflict a devastating array of harms on individual women and girls, the harms inflicted on the world at large, and on future generations, may be greater still.

As the health, education and human potential of women and girls are diminished, so too is humanity. But we have the power to defy the forces that perpetuate harm and to realize a world where every woman and girl is free to chart her
own future.