UN Women and UNICEF Iraq highlight need for better data to make progress for girls in Iraq [EN/AR]

News and Press Release
Originally published


Baghdad, Iraq, 11th October, 2016 – On the International Day of the Girl Child, UN Women and UNICEF would like to recognize the strides made globally in promoting the rights of girls, but also to highlight the challenges left to overcome.

In Iraq, girls have been subjected to gross human rights abuses including abductions, trafficking, torture, child marriage, pattern of sexual slavery, and other forms of gender based violence. Girls make up the majority of the 3.5 million out of school children in Iraq.

Currently, some 975,000 girls in Iraq got married before the age of 15, twice as many as in 1990. Without data, this increase never would have been tracked.

That is why this year’s theme of “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress” underscores the need for more gender-specific data, without which it will be impossible to accurately track advances toward girls’ and young women’s’ rights.

“This day was established through the United Nations resolution and designated for promoting the rights of girls and addressing the unique challenges faced. We recognize the strides that have been made as well as challenges due to lack of gender-specific data on girls making this year’s data focused theme essential in moving towards goals of equality and empowerment,” said UN Women Iraq Deputy Country Representative, Dr. Paulina Chiwangu

“A critical part of marking progress for girls is having data to highlight the challenges, opportunities, successes and areas for improvement,” said UNICEF Iraq Country Representative, Peter Hawkins.

Discrimination continues to hamper the progress of the world’s 1.1 billion girls. Gender specific data on girls can also help inform key policy and program solutions.

“Without this data, countries like Iraq won’t have the information they need to accurately address the challenges that millions of girls face, such as sexual violence, female genital mutilation, or lack of access to education,” said Hawkins, adding that UNICEF is actively supporting Iraq’s efforts to collect, analyze and report gender-specific data.

Dr. Chiwangu further states that “UN Women’s continued advocacy for more gender-specific data on girls can help to inform key national and international policy and program decisions towards solutions”.

The International Day of the Girl Child was established through a United Nations resolution to promote the rights of girls and address the unique challenges ahead.

To that end, we are advocating to:

  1. Enhance national capacity and systems to collect, analyze and disseminate gender data across the age spectrum to improve statistics on gender-based violence, adolescent pregnancy and reproductive health, informal employment, entrepreneurship, unpaid work, and other priorities for girls and young women.

  2. Disaggregate data on boys and girls and along other dimensions (e.g., ethnicity, age, income-level, disability, location, migration status, etc.) to better understand exactly which children and adolescents are most disadvantaged and where.

  3. Improve data collection efforts for often undercounted groups – such as data on sexual violence against younger adolescent girls (10-14).

  4. Harness “big data” and technology to close the gender data gaps in areas where progress for girls is often difficult to measure due to issue sensitivity or the huge data volume required, including through analysis of girls’ opinions on key development issues on social media.

  5. Remedy the gender bias in existing measurement tools, particularly biases that exclude the most vulnerable. For example, improved data collection tools can prevent underreporting of violence against girls and undercounting of their births and deaths.

  6. Pilot and scale-up innovative real-time data platforms to monitor and adapt programming for girls, to ensure girls are active participants in program design and that programs achieve the most impactful results.

UN Women’s global mandate is to empower women and girls and raise awareness on their rights, and advocate for the adoption and implementation of laws and policies. Un Women promotes gender equality as not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women and girls fuels the global economy. For further information about UN WOMEN and its work visit:

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 about UNICEF and its work visit:

For media inquiries:

UN Women Iraq: Dr. Bernice B. Rumala at

UNICEF Iraq: Farah Dakhlallah at, +964 (0)782 782 0238