The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has restated its commitment toward ensuring that girls get information and support they need to make safe, healthy transition to adulthood.
The UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen by UNFPA Nigeria in Abuja.
The statement was issued in commemoration of the 2019 International Day of the Girl Child, annually observed on Oct. 11.
She stated that the information and support for girls meant listening to their voices and respecting their rights and choices.
She noted that ” around the world, girls are challenging gender stereotypes and breaking free from the traditional roles that society has dictated for generations.
“More and more are saying no to child marriage and pushing for an end to the practice.
“They are advocating for their right to stay in school and to live free from violence and harm.
“They are calling for urgent climate action and working to build more just, equitable and sustainable societies.”
According to her, when girls have age-appropriate knowledge about their bodies and relationships, they are better able to prevent pregnancy and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
She added that they (girls) could stay on track to complete their education and gain the skills they need, to find and keep decent jobs and reach their full potential.
“This is life-changing for girls and game-changing for societies, ” she said.
Kanem noted that empowering girls in all spheres of their lives could help countries lay the foundation, for prosperity and well-being and reap a demographic dividend of economic growth.
The UNFPA boss said these issues and more, would be on the agenda of the Nairobi Summit on ICPD 25, being co-convened in November by the governments of Kenya and Denmark, together with UNFPA.
She said at the Summit, governments, civil society and other key stakeholders would make concrete commitments to achieve the goals set out by 179 governments, at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo.
She added that the goals included among others: ensuring girls’ rights to education and health; eliminating child marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.
“At UNFPA, we believe in the power of girls to take control over their bodies, write their own scripts and shape their own lives.
“Our global strategy for adolescents and youth “My Body, My Life, My World,’’ is our rallying cry as we march with them, towards the Nairobi Summit, ” she said.
She observed that by 2020, the world will also mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, another milestone on the path towards rights and choices for girls.
She added many promises that governments made to girls in Cairo and Beijing, were yet to be fulfilled.
“By following through on our commitments, we will set the stage for girls to live the lives they dream and be the unstoppable force for progress we know that they are, ” she said.
The International Day for the Girl Child is a day dedicated to celebrate girls, amplify their voice and stand up for their rights.
The theme for this year is: “Girl Force: Unscripted and Unstoppable”.