In marking the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child on Tuesday, the UN chief called the commemoration a celebration of the “lives and achievements of girls across the world”.
“When girls are supported to realize their human rights, they can reach their potential and create a better world for themselves, their communities and societies”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message.
He pointed out that when they can be in school, “they are more likely to lead healthy, productive and fulfilling lives”.
When girls are supported…they can reach their potential and create a better world – UN chief
With the right access to healthcare, “they grow up with greater self-confidence and bodily autonomy”; and when girls understand their rights – including the right to live without the threat of violence – “they are more likely to stay safe and report abuse”.
However, girls continue to face unprecedented challenges to their right to an education, their physical and mental wellness, and being safe from violence.
From having their education disrupted by being forced from their homes by conflict, and the inability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, Mr. Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic had made existing burdens worse, and worn away important gains made over the last decade.
Call for education access
Mr. Guterres expressed his concern over the continued exclusion of girls from high school in Afghanistan, explaining that it is not only “deeply damaging” to them, but also to “a country that desperately needs their energy and contributions”.
“Let girls learn”, he again urged Taliban leaders.
The Secretary-General underscored the need “now more than ever”, to renew the commitment to work together so that girls can enjoy and exercise their rights, playing a full and equal part in their communities and societies.
“Investing in girls is investing in our common future,” he spelled out.
“On the International Day of the Girl Child, let’s redouble our efforts to make sure girls everywhere are healthy, educated and safe”.
A decade later
Over the last 10 years, the UN says, there has been increased attention to issues that matter to girls on the part of governments, policymakers and the general public – along with more opportunities for their voices to be heard on the global stage.
Yet, investments in girls’ rights remain limited as they continue to confront a myriad of challenges to fulfilling their potential, which are made worse by concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19 and humanitarian conflict.
However, the UN upholds that with adversity, comes resourcefulness, creativity, tenacity, and resilience.
The world’s 600 million adolescent girls have shown time and time again that given the skills and the opportunities, they can be the changemakers driving progress in their communities, building back stronger for all, including women, boys and men.
According to the United Nations” “Girls are ready for a decade of acceleration forward. It is time for us all to stand accountable – with and for girls – and to invest in a future that believes in their agency, leadership and potential”.
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