Secretarty-General's message on the International Day of the Girl Child
On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by girls worldwide. Secretary-General said that halfway to the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world is failing girls.
Secretary-General's message revealed that, based on current trends, the end of child marriage remains a distant goal, with the grim estimate that it could take 300 years to eliminate this harmful practice. The implications are significant; by 2030, an estimated 110 million young women and girls who should be receiving an education may find themselves denied that opportunity. Moreover, 340 million women and girls are still expected to suffer the harsh realities of extreme poverty if substantial changes are not made.
Guterres stressed that while some progress has been made in gender equality, old forms of discrimination against girls persist, and in certain instances, are worsening. Afghanistan was highlighted as an example, where girls continue to face significant limitations on their basic rights, including access to education and economic independence.
Additionally, new forms of bias and inequality are emerging. The digital divide is preventing many girls from participating in the online world, and algorithms, often shaped by the experiences of men and boys, are perpetuating and amplifying sexism.
Despite these challenges, the Secretary-General emphasized that girls around the world are fighting back against discrimination and stereotypes. They are actively challenging gender bias on football fields, in schools, and within the public sphere. The call was made to stand with these young activists in their efforts to drive positive change.
Guterres presented proposals to address these pressing issues in his message. The concept of an SDG Stimulus has gained traction as a way to refocus efforts on achieving the SDGs. Additionally, the theme for this year's International Day of the Girl Child emphasized the importance of investing in girls' leadership, recognizing that when women and girls lead, they can drive changes in attitudes, policies, and solutions that better address their needs.
Concluding the message, António Guterres called for global unity to amplify the voices of girls and reaffirm the commitment to building a world where every girl can lead and thrive. Empowering women and girls, he noted, holds the potential to pave the way to a fairer and more equitable future.