October | Sunday | 11, 2015 :: The International Day of the Girl Child was established by United Nations resolution in 2011. The importance of redoubling efforts and focusing on adolescent girls is the emphasis of the 2015 International Day of the Girl Child, marked on 11 October. This year the theme is: The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.
There are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, each with limitless individual potential.
- In the next decades, these girls will represent a large percentage of the workforce and will grow into future leaders, innovators and teachers. Many will also be the mothers and caregivers of a new generation. They have the potential to inspire change.
- Failure to invest in their futures comes at a high price. Without investment in adolescent girls, much recent progress on HIV and AIDS, maternal and newborn health, protection and education will be wasted.
- The world will suffer from the lost potential; economic growth will slow and hopes for creating a sustainable and equitable world will not be realized.
- And the rights of many millions of adolescent girls will remain neglected.
As a group, adolescent girls can be a formidable force for create a better world. With the right investments, support and interventions, adolescent girls have the power and potential to transform families, communities, nations and the world.
However, investment in girls’ health, safety and education pays development dividends. For example:
- Research shows that half the reduction in under 5 mortality can be traced to increases in schooling for young women
(Source: Gakidou, Emmanuela, Krycia Cowling, Rafael Lozano and Christopher Murray, ‘Increased educational attainment and its effect on child mortality in 175 countries between 1970 and 2009: A systematic analysis’,The Lancet, vol. 376, 2010, pp. 959–974)
- If all women had secondary education, there would be 49 per cent fewer child deaths in low- and lower middle income countries.
(Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/14: Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all – Gender Summary, UNESCO, Paris, 2014, p. 20.)
- Children of more educated mothers are more likely to receive vaccines, see a doctor if they are sick, receive rehydration if they have diarrhoea, sleep under insecticide-treated nets, and benefit from other health-related practices.
(Source: United Nations Children’s Fund, The Investment Case for Education and Equity, UNICEF, New York, January 2015, p. 10)
With targeted investments in age-specific programmes and services, we can empower adolescent girls to be the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.
- Education, skills training and access to information technology can transform adolescent girls’ lives and prepare girls for life, jobs and leadership.
- Investment in age-specific services on puberty, menstrual hygiene management, and sexual and reproductive health are essential to providing adolescent girls with the health care information and services they need.
- Physical, mental and sexual violence against adolescent girls in any form must not be tolerated.
- Social and economic policies must be enacted and consistently implemented to protect adolescent girls from child marriage, trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Content by Moira Dawa [ Communication Officer | Advocacy & Communication. UNICEF Office for Jharkhand ]