Guterres: “Investing in girls is an investment in our common future”

“Investing in girls is an investment in our common future,” the UN secretary-general emphatically said on Tuesday, calling on all nations to redouble their efforts so that they all “have access to health and education and do not put themselves at risk.” .

In his message for the tenth anniversary of the International Day of the Girl, António Guterres said that if given the support they need to achieve their human rights, girls can to reach their potential and create a better world for themselves, their communities and their societies“.

The UN chief also stressed that “when they get an education, they are more likely to lead a healthy, productive and fulfilling life”, adding that the appropriate health factor helps them grow “with greater self-esteem and bodily autonomy”.

“When girls are aware of their rights, including the right to live without the threat of violence, they are more likely to stay safe and report abuse,” she found.

Concern for the education of Afghan girls

Among the enormous challenges they face on a daily basis, Guterres highlighted the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic could have on girls’ education, that conflicts have forced them to flee their homes, or that they are unable to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.

“I am deeply concerned that girls continue to be prevented from going to school in Afghanistan. This This is deeply damaging to the girls themselves and to a country that desperately needs their energy and input.“, he clarified and again called on the Taliban to allow them to study.

That is why the Secretary-General emphasized that “now more than ever we must renew our commitment to work together so that girls enjoy and exercise their rights and can play a full and equal role in their communities and societies.

Without action, gender equality will take 300 years

For her part, UN Women’s Executive Director indicated that the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Our Time is Now: Our Rights, Our Future,” expresses the determination to promote immediate change as transformative feminist leaders.

Sima Bacchus highlighted that the past decade has seen an increase in the interests and influence of girls on global agendas and their contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in multiple areas such as climate, education, mental well-being, gender-based or sexual violence and reproductive health and rights.

“Their activism in feminist movements and mobilization for gender equality, including intergenerational equality, is a key part of shaping positive and informed action in their local communities and globally,” she stressed.

Despite all these achievements, he pointed out that, according to UN Women’s calculations, and if the current level of progress continues, women and Girls would not achieve full equality with men and boys for another 300 years.

Education as a tool for change

To try to break this trend, he pointed to education as a tool that truly prepares students for the future.

“However, poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, violence and instability continue to erect barriers. Investments in implementing girls’ rights remain insufficient, contributing to short-term and siled approaches that ultimately harm adolescent girls,” she warned.

Among concrete steps to address these challenges, Bacchus emphasized the need for stakeholders to obtain “age- and gender-disaggregated data to inform policies that directly affect girls’ lives” and resources to ensure that adolescent girls are ” safe, healthy, educated and strong around the world”.

“I envision a world in which the agency and leadership capacity of adolescent girls is recognized, living in full enjoyment of their rights, free from violence and discrimination, as leaders and members of societies and communities on equal terms,” ​​she visualized.

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