Prioritising investment in girls a smart choice, says UNFPA

Kathmandu, October 10

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Saturday expressed commitment to the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind and to prioritise investment in girls as the smart choice for the health and prosperity of Nepal.

On the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child, which is celebrated every year on October 11, UNFPA said it will continue to work with the government of Nepal, the United Nations and civil society to make 2030 Agenda a reality.

The theme for International Day of the Girl Child-2015 is ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030’.

Issuing a press statement, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA said, “On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, Nepal has an unprecedented opportunity to focus on the power of girls to drive progress and transform the country.”

In the statement, Dr Osotimehin said that by prominently featuring girls’ rights in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development last month, the international community has responded enthusiastically to the evidence that investing in girls yields huge returns.

“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,” reads the statement.

It said that despite advances in recent years, 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. It also represents a critical window for preventive and protective investments that we must make if we are serious about achieving full gender equality,” reads the statement.

It further said that ensuring that girls are able to exercise their rights, can pursue their education and have the skills and opportunity to join the workforce is essential for their own well-being, and a critical foundation for the health and prosperity of communities and nations.

“These rights include choosing when and whom to marry, when or whether to have children, and being free of violence, abuse and exploitation,” it said, adding, “When girls are free to define their lives and enjoy their rights, they not only enjoy better health and healthier children, they are also better able to contribute to national development as economic actors and entrepreneurs, helping their countries reap a demographic dividend and driving economic growth.”

It mentioned that 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 sexuality 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 — whether they live in rural or urban areas, whether they are pregnant or not, whether they are married or single,” it said.

UNFPA also sought the need to build a world in which girls have no limits on their aspirations for the future regardless of their birthplace and a world where girls are treated with dignity and respect in equal measures with boys and where regardless of their sex, young people’s human rights are promoted and respected.