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Investing in Girls' Rights

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Written by Anurag Prasad

The International Day of the Girl, observed on October 11th, serves as a global platform to advocate for the comprehensive rights of girls.

Edlodge celebrates International Girl Child Day

The theme for International Day of the Girl 2023 is "Invest in Girls' Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being." This theme emphasizes the importance of investing in girls' rights and leadership in order to create a better future for all. In the face of current challenges and movements that threaten gender equality, girls are disproportionately affected, necessitating increased attention and resources. Thus, investment is needed in crucial areas like maternal healthcare, digital skills, comprehensive sexuality education, and violence prevention to empower girls.

From October 2023 to October 2024, UNICEF, in collaboration with government and civil society partners, is issuing a global call to action. This includes prioritising girls' rights in various aspects from maternal healthcare to financial literacy, along with recognising, celebrating and supporting girls' leadership. Further, it aims at introducing multi-sectoral programs that cater to adolescent girls' well-being, building on existing support systems. It will also ensure information, services, and systems meaningfully change to be adolescent-girl-friendly by addressing issues like stigma in accessing essential services such as sexual and reproductive health services. Finally, the initiative advocates for structural changes and increased funding for adolescent girls.

Patriarchy and power imbalances persist globally, granting boys comparative advantages over girls, particularly during adolescence. Gender norms limit girls' access to public spaces, reinforcing stereotypes that prioritize appearance and caregiving over education, leadership, and participation in policymaking. This systemic inequality hinders girls' rights and leaves them disadvantaged in various aspects of life. For example:

The data reveals a stark reality for adolescent girls worldwide. A significant proportion, almost 1 in 5, fail to complete lower-secondary education, and nearly 4 in 10 do not complete upper-secondary school, with even bleaker statistics in certain regions. Gender disparities in internet access persist, as roughly 90% of adolescent girls and young women in low-income countries remain offline compared to their male counterparts. Girls aged 5-14 are burdened with 160 million more hours of unpaid care and domestic work daily, exacerbating inequalities in adolescence. Moreover, adolescent girls account for the majority of new HIV infections among adolescents, while access to modern family planning methods remains insufficient. Access has increased from 55% to 60% since 2012. This means that 4 in 10 adolescent girls aged 15-19 who want to avoid pregnancy are not using a modern method and teenage pregnancy is a leading cause of mortality for adolescent girls, leading to high teenage pregnancy rates. Child marriage threats have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, putting up to 10 million more girls at risk in the next decade. These sobering statistics underscore the urgent need for comprehensive efforts to address the myriad challenges facing adolescent girls globally.

By investing in girls’ rights, we can create a more inclusive and better world for them. We can ensure that girls and young women have the tools and resources they need to reach their full potential. For instance, each additional year of secondary education for girls boosts her potential income by 10-20%, thus fostering economic productivity, poverty reduction, and enhanced overall well-being, with added protective effects on health and well-being. Thus, investing in girls' education, health, and empowerment is not just a matter of fairness but also a smart investment towards a brighter future for all. Let us commit to a world where every girl is valued, protected, and given the chance to prosper.

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