The United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) issue a joint statement to mark international celebrations of the International Day of the Girl Child 2017.
International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) is observed globally on October 11 each year to raise awareness on issues that affect adolescent girls.
The theme of this year’s IDGC is EmPOWER Girls: Emergency Response and Resilience Planning. Girls today enjoy better life prospects than previous generations in many ways. Prosperity and nutrition are improving, child marriage and teenage pregnancy are declining, and female educational attainment and participation in the labour force are on the rise.
However, these advances are far from universal and are increasingly tenuous in many parts of the world. The poorest—particularly girls—are often left behind, their rights undermined.
Because of entrenched gender inequalities, disasters and conflict can make a bad situation even worse for girls. In times of crisis, girls often have fewer resources, less mobility, and more difficulty accessing life-saving information and networks.
Girls between the ages of 15 to 19 and their families, struggling to survive, are left with few choices, leaving girls even more vulnerable to sexual, school-related and gender-based violence, child marriage, including trafficking, rape, sexual slavery and basic human rights and protection issues that can become more acute in the wake of disasters.
They are faced with the cruel reality of heightened risks to their sexual and reproductive health and diminished access to critical health care. Despite these challenges, many girls manage to play a critical role in their homes and communities, even in crises.
They are often the first responders who care for their families and establish networks that produce the social capital and resilience communities need to survive. Protecting and promoting their rights, health, and well-being is therefore an essential element of crisis preparedness, effective response and recovery.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works towards ensuring that girls are healthy, empowered and, thus, more resilient in the face of crises and in the rebuilding of their societies. UNFPA supports the development of more inclusive health, education, and empowerment programmes that are age- and gender-responsive, often girl-led, and enhance the voices of girls at the community level.
From creating safe spaces, to providing sexual and reproductive health information and services, to facilitating youth leadership and participation, we and our partners are innovating to reach, engage and empower adolescent girls and to ensure that we respond not just to their needs, but to their aspirations.
UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Officer-in-Charge Aloys Kamuragiye, said when girls’ lives are disrupted by climate change, disaster and protracted conflict – events that can uproot them from their homes – there are risks, violations and vulnerabilities they face just because they are girls. Most of these dangers are directly linked to the economic, political, social and cultural disadvantages girls deal with in their daily lives.
“However, girls are also resilient. Long-term solutions, designed by and for girls, can strengthen this resilience and be a pathway of transformational and lifelong opportunity for girls. Girls, especially adolescent girls, need platforms to voice the challenges they face in everyday life and explore the solutions that work for them so they can build better futures for themselves and their communities,” Kamuragiye said.
Today and every day let us support the power of girls before, during and after crises to build better futures for themselves and their communities.