By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Women (UN Women) said investing in girls’ rights is essential to foster gender equality and also a strategic decision with the potential to transform society.
UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous said this on Tuesday in her remarks at the 10th annual celebration of the Girls Speak Out for International Day of the Girl Child.
The event, monitored virtually by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was held to commemorate the 2023 International Day of the Girl Child, which is marked annually on October 11.
The theme of the 2023 celebration is, “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership & Wellbeing.”
According to her, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) five, Gender Equality, underpins all the global goals and has the opportunity to accelerate peace, security and development for all.
Bahous, however, said the global challenges for girls to rise and to be heard were formidable.
“Not only is the world becoming a more difficult place to survive, especially in fragile or conflict and climate affected countries, but the construction of our societies themselves can inhibit girls thriving.
“UN Women’s recently published gender snapshot tells us that more than 314 million women and girls will still live in extreme poverty by 2030.
“In so many places, the moment a girl becomes a teenager, her options start to shrink and often, it means an end to her education, or the beginning of a marriage she did not choose,” she said.
Bahous said, “girls are not our future but are our present,” noting that they possessed unique perspectives, talents, and ideas that could contribute to solving complex challenges.
She said to tackle the challenges faced by girls, UN Women’s work included approaches to develop girls’ critical thinking, effective communication and to promote their confidence.
“We emphasise adolescent leadership, building girls’ schools skills to exercise the power of their voice and to engage in practical solutions that help shape their own communities,” she said.
She added that the agency also provided support to the development and implementation of rights-based policies that responded to the context of adolescent girls and young women in crisis settings.
“As we celebrate and foster the power and potential of girls in all their diversity, let us also invest in their rights, in their leadership and in their well-being.
“Let us together create a safe world where every girl has the chance to reach her full potential where no girl is left out, or left behind and where equality can finally become a reality for all. “We are for girls, we are with girls,” Bahous added.