Tanzania: International NGOs urge investment in adolescent girls' rights

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - World leaders entering the next round of negotiations on the post-2015 agenda have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the lives of adolescent girls, and in turn, the world, according to a Girl Declaration Joint Advocacy Group statement issued on Saturday by international non-governmental organisations to mark this year's International Day of the Girl Child.

The day, celebrated worldwide, was established by the UN to promote the rights of girls and the unique challenges they face.

Calling on Member States to make a strong and deliberate investment in adolescent girls, the NGOs have reaffirmed their belief that "investment in adolescent girls’ rights and needs is necessary if we are to accelerate progress on the toughest global challenges, achieve equality, advance human rights and end global poverty".

This year’s International Day of the Girl Child focuses on empowering girls to end the cycle of violence in their own communities.

According to the advocacy group's statement, adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to violence, discrimination and other human rights violations.

"Yet, when girls grow up healthy, educated, safe and empowered, they can fulfill their potential to be leaders in their communities, countries and the world," said the statement.

Looking ahead to further post-2015 discussions, including the UN Secretary General’s synthesis report, regional consultations and debate about indicators and means of implementation, the Group encouraged Member States to speak in favour of issues that directly impact girls’ ability to reach their full potential.

"In doing so, we see an opportunity to increase the overall success, impact and sustainability of the post-2015 framework," said the statement, which strongly urged Member States to ensure adolescent girls are embedded in the design, content, financing, implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 agenda.

The Group suggested that issues that can determine the course of the girls' lives should not be negotiated away to make room for others that may be deemed more urgent or easier to achieve.

On issues highlighted in its statement, the Group said they can be the difference between life and death for an adolescent girl, and can have significant impact on the development of their communities and societies.

The Girl Declaration was developed through consultations with more than 500 adolescent girls living in poverty around the world and more than 25 leading international development organisations and issue experts.

These include Plan, Care, International Women's Health Coalition, Girls Lead, Women Deliver, Advocates for Youth, IPPF, Equality Now, International Centre for Research on Women, Nike Foundation and World YWCA.

Based on the goals and principles of the Girl Declaration, the Group has called on Member States to develop a post-2015 agenda that enables all adolescent girls to:

-- Lead healthy lives. This includes ensuring universal sexual and reproductive health and rights, and guaranteeing access by all adolescents and young people to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights information, education and services -- including all girls, in- and out-of school, regardless of marital, pregnancy, or other status.

-- Be free from all harmful practices, especially the child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. This requires explicitly addressing these issues in the post-2015 framework, implementation and monitoring, including through adopting comprehensive indicators.

-- Be safe from violence and discrimination and have access to justice. This requires taking proactive measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination and inequality, in law, policy and in practice, including removing legal barriers such as spousal or parental consent and minimum age requirements to obtain essential health and legal services.

-- Complete free, equitable and quality secondary education in a safe and supportive learning environment. This requires promoting human rights and gender equality in educational institutions and addressing barriers to accessing and completing a secondary education, including direct and indirect costs, school-related gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, harassment and discrimination, as well as school dropout of girls who become pregnant or married.

-- Be heard. This requires using youth friendly and gender sensitive participatory development, monitoring and accountability approaches that meaningfully include adolescent girls, including those most vulnerable, at the local, national, regional and international levels, and ensuring that their voices are heard, respected and acted upon in an equal manner to those of others.

According to the statement, the generation of adolescents is the largest ever, and adolescent girls constitute approximately half of that generation.

"Girls are key to every sustainable solution, and we will not achieve progress without them," the statement concluded.

Since its launch in October 2013, The Girls Declaration has galvanised signatories and supporters across sectors and backgrounds, demonstrating strong support for adolescent girls and solutions to the issues that affect their lives and communities.
-0- PANA AR/MA 11Oct2013

11 october 2014 12:12:21

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