United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director in Liberia, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, has promised to work with the government and other partners to prioritize issues relating to the education and empowerment of girls.
In a statement read on his behalf by Mrs. Patricia J. Scott, Gender Program Director at UNFPA, at the October 11 program marking the International Day of the Girl Child, Dr. Osotimehin observed that when girls are free to define their lives and enjoy their rights as well as better health and bring forth healthier children, they will be able to contribute to national development by becoming economic actors and entrepreneurs.
“Today, as we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child,” he said, “the world has an unprecedented opportunity to focus on the power of girls to drive progress and transform our world.”
The United Nations Assembly on December 19, 2011, adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 of each year to be observed as International day of the Girl Child. This year’s celebration was held under the theme, ‘’the power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision 2030.’’ It was hosted in collaboration with the Gender Health Unit and Family Health Division of the Ministry of Health, Touching Humanity In Need of Kindness (THINK-Liberia), Adolescent Girls Unit of the Gender Ministry and Helping Our People Excel (HOPE-Liberia).
Last month, Dr. Osotimehin said, the international community responded to the evidence that investing in girls yields huge returns by prominently featuring girls’ right in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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.
Dr. Osotimehin then called for a stronger focus on adolescent girls across Liberia.
Despite advances in recent years, he observed that girls continue to suffer severe disadvantages, discrimination and exclusion merely for being young and being female.
“For many girls, puberty marks an accelerating trajectory into inequality and also represents a critical window for preventive and protective investments that we must make if we are serious about achieving full gender equality,” he said.
Dr. Osotimehin called on partners to ensure that girls are able to exercise their rights by pursuing education, and have the requisite skills and opportunities to join the workforce for their own well-being, and a critical foundation for health and prosperity of families, communities and nations.
He used the occasion to urged his partners to give girls unfettered access to comprehensive sexuality education; remove laws that will impede their access to information; services and choices; provide them with health services, including contraceptive services, and most importantly keep them in school –whether they live in rural or urban areas.
Earlier, Odelle Swen, program manager of HOPE, said in Liberia and other parts of the World, girls are regarded as the poorest and more vulnerable people in society, adding that their rights are being abused.
She called on the government and other stakeholders to ensure that the rights of girls in Liberia are prioritized.