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UNFPA: A lot more must to be done to improve challenges girls face globally

International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on 11 October 2019, under the theme GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.

FILE: The UNFPA says more young girls are stepping up and amplifying their voices to demand that their governments make deliberate efforts to provide them with the future they want. Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - As the world commemorates the International Day of the Girl Child on Friday, the United Nations Populations Fund agreed that while a lot had been achieved to improve various challenges faced by girls, more still needed to be done.

The theme for 2019 is GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable. It recognises the achievements of girls in breaking stereotypes and barriers since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (UNFPA), a global commitment to achieving equality, development and peace for women worldwide.

Almost 25 years ago, some 30,000 women and men from nearly 200 countries arrived in Beijing, China, committed to recognise the rights of women and girls as human rights as central to sustainable development.

“Today, more young girls are stepping up and amplifying their voices to demand that their governments make deliberate efforts to provide them [youth] with the future they want. More girls today are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world of work,” said the UNFPA through a statement.

The group, however, admitted that there were more hurdles that needed to be addressed.

The UNFPA said as the day was celebrated, it provided the opportunity to educate the public on issues of concern that women and girls were still facing, such as gender-based violence, early marriage, and Female Genital Mutilation; to mobilise political will and resources to address these social ills; and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.

“But a lot more still needs to be done. For instance, as much as the African region has had some success in reducing new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, large disparities still exist between young women and men of the same age.

“Furthermore, young women and girls continue to suffer from sexual and gender-based violence; evidence shows that 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point of their lives. Among young women, almost one in six young women aged 20 to 24 in Africa experience sexual and gender-based violence,” the group added.

It concluded by saying everyone had a role to play to ensure that girls reached and fulfilled their individual potential.

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