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UNFPA champions girls’ empowerment

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The Executive Director for the United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, says the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls on the world to leave no one behind will be measured by how well collective actions are exerted to building a world in which girls have no limits on their future aspirations, no matter where they are born.

He said this would also require building a world where adolescent girls have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services and possess the knowledge and confidence they need to make the right choices for a healthy life.

Dr. Osotomehin’s call is contain in a statement released to mark the 4th Anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child, which fell on Sunday, 11 October with the theme, “Educating Girls for Sustainable Development.” The day was however celebrated officially by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on Monday, 12 October at the Paynesville Town Hall in Paynesville City.

Earlier, UNFPA Gender Programme Officer Patricia Jallah Scott, organized a Girls Summit Friday, 9 October at Golden Key Hotel in Paynesville, suburb of Monrovia, bringing together hundreds of adolescent girls and various stakeholders where she read the Executive Director’s statement.

Dr. Osotomehin also emphasized the need to build a world in which every girl can enter freely into a productive adulthood because she is educated, health, free from sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, and not exposed to violence, unintended pregnancy or unsafe abortion.

He calls for a world where girls are treated with dignity and respect in equal measure with boys and where, regardless of their sex, young people’s human rights are promoted and respected.

According to him, by prominently featuring girls’ rights in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community has responded enthusiastically to the evidence that investing in girls yields huge returns.

He said the new agenda acknowledges that increased attention to the health and well-being of the world’s adolescent girls, including their sexual and reproductive health, is a necessary condition for success, and calls powerfully for a stronger focus on adolescent girls across sectors.

The UNFPA Executive Director further emphasized that when girls are free to define their lives and enjoy their rights, they not only enjoy better health and healthier children; and are also better able to contribute to national development as economic actors and entrepreneurs, helping their countries reap a demographic divided and driving economic growth.

“Going forward, we need to increase our efforts to end child marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices affecting girls. We need to give girls unfettered access to comprehensive sexually education, remove laws that impede their access to information, services and choices, provide them with comprehensive health services, including contraceptive services, and most critically, keep them in school – where they live in rural or urban areas, whether they are pregnant or not, whether they are married or single”, he said.

He pledged that UNFPA will continue to work with governments around the world, the United Nations system and civil society to make this visions reality, saying, “We commit to the bold pledge of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind and to prioritize investment in girls as the smart choice for the health and prosperity of all our nations.”

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