Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child
11 October 2018
This year’s International Day of the Girl Child is focusing on empowerment through education. Girls’ education is a fundamental right; it is also a powerful lever for development.
Girls’ education is at the intersection of two of the most important challenges of our time: education and gender equality. A collective consciousness is rising to ensure that the right to quality education for all girls becomes a reality. Strong signals of high-level political commitment were apparent at the United Nations General Assembly in New York a fortnight ago, as well as at the first G20 meeting dedicated to education, held in Argentina last month. The recent Commonwealth initiative to establish a high-level Platform for Girls’ Education is an additional sign of this new global awareness.
The challenges are still immense. Worldwide, today, more than 130 million girls of school age are out of school. In addition, of the 600 million adolescent girls who will enter the labour market in the next decade, more than 90% live in developing countries and will work in an informal economy where unpaid work, abuse and exploitation are more prevalent.
That is why UNESCO, the United Nations lead agency for education in the context of the 2030 Agenda, is working with the international community so that girls can benefit from 12 years of basic education free of charge. It is committed to ensuring that States include in school curricula issues relating to gender equality, health and sexuality, so as to break with the social habits and collective representations that impede girls’ freedom and constitute barriers to their intellectual formation and social and professional integration.
The integration of girls in the changing world of work includes in particular improved access to science and technology careers, where they are too often underrepresented.
In order to encourage innovative teaching that helps girls to acquire the self-confidence they need and that will reduce gender inequalities, UNESCO established in 2015, with the support of the Government of China, a Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education. This year, the Prize is awarded to the Misr El Kheir Foundation (Egypt), for supporting girls’ education in poor villages, and the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (Jamaica), so that it may continue its support for pregnant teenagers and young mothers in Jamaica, giving them a second chance to continue their education.
为鼓励帮助女童获得必要自信和消除性别不平等的教学创新，教科文组织在中华人民共和国政府的支持下于2015年设立了“女童和妇女教育奖”。今年，该奖项颁给了Misr El Kheir基金会(埃及)，表彰其对贫困农村女童教育的支持，以及牙买加基金会妇女中心(牙买加)，使其继续向怀孕少女和牙买加青年母亲提供援助，使她们再次获得接受教育的机会。
These initiatives should inspire us. Girls’ education must be one of our priorities, because to a great extent the peace and prosperity of our world depend upon it.
Message on the International Day of the Girl Child
11 October 2018
Today, 600 million adolescent girls are preparing to enter a world of work transformed by innovation and automation. They are the largest generation in history and a vast source of ideas and solutions for all career fields. Yet far too often, girls are not given the space and opportunities they need to achieve their full potential. Multiple barriers include systematic discrimination, biases and lack of training.
We need concerted efforts to overcome the obstacles that mean that, for example, women make up less than 30 per cent of graduates in information and communications technology and occupy less than 30 per cent of research and development jobs worldwide.
Negative gender stereotypes related to girls’ education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics begin as early as primary school, and have the devastating effect of making them doubt their own potential.
Although the number of girls attending school is the highest ever, many are still not getting the skills necessary for lifelong success. Moreover, it is estimated that five years from now, over one-third of the abilities considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.
We need to equip girls with transferable and lifelong skills such as critical thinking, creativity and digital awareness. Having role models will also be critical, especially in the sciences and other fields where the presence of women is sparse.
To help empower young people, I recently launched Youth2030, a strategy that aims to work with them, understand their needs and help put their ideas into action. On this International Day of the Girl, let us recommit to supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential.