All girls count, says UN, calls for tackling inequalities holding them back

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon bids farewell to United Nations

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 12 (APP): Improved data collection on issues girls face across the world, can provide a better understanding of their lives and help to solve their problems, the United Nations said Tuesday as it marked the International Day of the Girl Child.

The well-being, human rights and empowerment of the worlds 1.1 billion girls are central to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When we agreed on that agenda, we promised girls quality education and health services, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the Day, which this year tackle the theme Girls Progress =
Goals Noting that the theme is based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the secretary-general recalled that when adopting those targets last year, the world had committed to ending discrimination and violence against girls, and harmful practices like child marriage.We pledged to leave no one behind, he said.

Yet, too often, in villages, shanty towns and refugee camps around the world, girls are the ones left behind: without nutritious food, healthcare or quality education, and at risk of sexual violence. AS such, the UN chief said that investing in girls is both the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do.

But what cannot be measured cannot be managed. If we do not gather the data we need, we will never know if we are delivering on our promises, he said, calling for efforts to make sure agreed global initiatives are all girls from those living in extreme poverty to those living with disabilities or those who are refugees or displaced within their own countries.

Timely, high-quality data is vital so that we know where we are meeting our promises, and where we are falling behind. Let us all work hard to make sure we count all girls, because all girls count, said the Secretary-General.

In her statement on the Day, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka stressed that without progress for girls, there can be no real progress on our global commitments to justice and prosperity.

To know what they want and need, we need accurate, reliable, transparent and comparable gender data, she stressed, noting for example that adolescent girls may share many of the same risks to their health and rights as their younger siblings or older women, but the challenges that they face are sometimes more acute, partly because they are not visible.

With this in mind, she said UN Women is working both on gathering this information, and on building an integrated evidence-base that can help remove the structural barriers to increasing economic empowerment.

Last month during the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly, the entity launched the new public-private initiative Making Every Woman and Girl Count.

Over the next five years, this $65 million initiative will increase the production of gender-sensitive data and ensure the results are used to shape policies and increase accountability.

Working with our partners, we are supporting countries to strengthen national capacity and systems to collect, analyze and disseminate gender data to improve statistics on priority issues for girls, Ms. Mlambo Ngcuka said.

According the UN, only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and programme decisions, can societies adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.

Yet fewer than 50 countries are able to provide data that is
disaggregated by both sex and age, making it difficult to assess poverty, inter-partner violence and adolescent maternal deaths, among other important information, it said. Without this data, girls challenges will remain hidden in silence and their potential will not be realized.