International Day of the Girl Child: Government and partners launch the ‘National Campaign on Adolescent Girls’
KAMPALA, 12 October 2015 – The Government of Uganda in collaboration with the UN in Uganda and other partners will today mark this year’s International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) with the launch of the ‘National Campaign on Adolescent Girls.’’ The campaign is aimed at highlighting the importance of investing more in the adolescent girl-child.
The importance of redoubling efforts and focusing on adolescent girls is the emphasis of the 2015 International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC), marked on 11 October. The theme this year is ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.’ The theme was selected in recognition of the critical role adolescent girls will play as the global community implements the Sustainable Goals.
The 2013 Adolescent Girls Vulnerability Index indicates that while all adolescents - both boys and girls are entitled to decent livelihoods, girls face disproportionate risks and distinctive consequences from the vulnerabilities experienced.
Throughout the world, adolescent girls are disappearing from the international development agenda despite progress made in education, health, HIV and AIDS and protections against violence. They are not recognised as a distinct group! Majority of the services and programmes designed by the various stakeholders do not target the age-specific needs of girls aged 10-19 while a few interventions available for young girls and adult women fail to address the barriers and disadvantages adolescent girls face.
Overall, adolescent girls have not received the attention they deserve as individuals. As a group, they have not been provided with the support they need to overcome inequalities and discrimination that deprive them of a fair chance in life. Millions of adolescent girls are excluded from quality secondary education; many do not receive information about puberty and reproductive health; others are subjected to child marriage, female genital mutilation and cutting, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and gender-based violence, all of which have lifelong consequences. In addition, during times of conflict and disaster, adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable to exploitation, child marriage, rape and other forms of violence.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie said investment in girls’ health, safety and education pays development dividends. “Investing in adolescent girls is one of the smartest ways to secure a better and more sustainable future.”
The ‘Adolescent Girls Campaign’ to be launched by the First Lady Mrs. Janet Museveni therefore aims at designing age-specific investments, interventions, policies and programmes that will empower adolescent girls and enable them forge a new future for themselves and the world. The interventions will include but not limited to investment in education, skills training, access to information technology, menstrual hygiene management, HIV education and reproductive health services. More still, the investments designed will also aim at combating attitudes and behaviours like child marriage, female genital mutilation and cutting, and sexual violence – that endanger girls and impede their empowerment and progress.
Guided by UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and within the framework of the National Development Plan II; the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2016-2020; UN Joint Framework on Adolescence; The UN Joint Statement on Adolescent Girls 2007; The “All In” UN Strategy to close the HIV prevention and treatment gap among the adolescent group, the UN in Uganda will support national efforts in the following six strategic priorities:
• Educate adolescent girls: Ensure adolescent girls have access to quality education and complete schooling, focusing on their transition from primary to post-primary education and training, including secondary education;
• Improve adolescent girls health: including the provision of HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment services;
• Keep adolescent girls free from violence: Prevent and protect girls from all forms of gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation, and ensure that girls who experience violence receive prompt protection services and access to justice;
• Promoting adolescent engagement: Ensure adolescent girls gain leadership and other life skills and promote their meaningful participation in decisions that affect their lives;
• Ensure adequate living standards for adolescent girls: Scale the provision of social protection services in order to strengthen the resilience of adolescent girls and promote skills development and economic opportunities for adolescent girls;
• Count adolescent girls: work with relevant ministries and the bureau of statistics to collect, analyze, and use data on adolescent girls to advocate for, develop and monitor evidence-based policies and programmes that advance their well-being and realize their human rights.
Recent research has shown that if all women had a secondary education, there would be 49 per cent fewer child deaths in low- and lower middle income countries. Furthermore, children of more educated mothers are more likely to receive vaccines, see a doctor if they are sick, receive rehydration of they have diarrhoea, sleep under insecticide-treated nets, and benefit from other health-related practices. UNESCO also indicates that if all women completed primary education, maternal mortality would fall by 66 per cent, saving the lives of 189,000 women every year.
In Uganda, progress has been registered in putting in place legal and policy frameworks for addressing gender inequalities and discrimination across the different sectors. These commitments are further reflected in the Government’s ratification of the global and regional conventions and declarations that prohibit discrimination and violence and promote protection of girls. The campaign therefore will look at investing in programmes tailored towards addressing the distinct needs of adolescent girls as well as target the barriers that keep adolescent girls out of school, including gender-based violence and child marriage among many others.
“The ‘Campaign’ will complement other adolescent girl-focused efforts supported by the Government and will require support of all partners across all sectors,” said the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Muruli Mukasa.
The International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) was designated by the United Nations as a day for promoting the rights of girls and addressing the unique challenges they face. The inaugural day in 2012 focused on the issue of ending child marriage; in 2013 the theme was “Innovating for Girls’ Education”; and in 2014 the theme was “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence”.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information, please contact:
Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi, Communication Specialist-UNICEF/Chair UN Communication Group, +256 772 629567, +256 703 729567, email@example.com