International Day celebrates girls’ role in driving global progress

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Girls Speak Out event. UN File Photo/Amanda Voisard

Despite global advances, girls continue to suffer discrimination, exclusion and severe disadvantages just for being young and being female, according to the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

This Sunday, 11 October, is the fourth International Day of the Girl Child and the focus is on adolescent girls and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDG targets include achieving gender equality by the year 2030.

Dianne Penn reports.

UNFPA chief Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin sees the newly-adopted global development agenda as "an unprecedented opportunity" to focus on how girls can drive progress and transform the world.

He says when girls are free to define their own lives and enjoy their rights, it benefits them and also contributes to national development.

Seventeen-year-old Taylor would agree.

She was among girl advocates participating in a UN event to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child.

"If girls' rights are ignored, that prevents half of the population from prospering and positively shaping the world from childhood to adulthood. It is not enough to simply lump women and children into the same category. Girls have unique needs that are not adequately addressed when we are just regarded as children or just as future women. We are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today. Our voices and issues must be recognized and acknowledged in order for gender equality to be achieved."

Other UN agencies are also taking a stand for the world's girls.

UN Women, the UN gender entity, is calling for countries to repeal discriminatory laws that create barriers for girls in accessing education, health care and decent employment.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’15″

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