As leaders gather for the fifteen-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action, we, the members of the United Nations Adolescent Girls Task Force, jointly pledge to intensify our efforts to fulfil the human rights of adolescent girls. During the next five years, we will increase our agencies’ support to developing countries to advance key policies and programmes that empower the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls, particularly those aged 10 to 14 years.
Many of the 600 million adolescent girls living in developing countries remain invisible in national policies and programmes. Millions live in poverty, are burdened by gender discrimination and inequality, and are subject to multiple forms of violence, abuse, and exploitation, such as child labour, child marriage and other harmful practices. The full potential of these girls and their contribution to their communities have yet to be realized.
We are convinced that educated, healthy and skilled adolescent girls will help build a better future, advance social justice, support economic development, and combat poverty. They will stay in school, marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children, and earn better incomes that will benefit themselves, their families, communities and nations. Investing in their rights and empowerment will help accelerate the achievement of internationally-agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
We will work with governments, civil society, communities, adolescent girls and boys on five strategic priorities:
1. Educate adolescent girls: Ensure adolescent girls have access to quality education and complete schooling, focusing on their transition from primary to post-primary education and training, including secondary education, and pathways between the formal and non-formal systems.
2. Improve adolescent girls’ health: Ensure adolescent girls’ access to age-appropriate health and nutrition information and services, including life skills-based sexuality education, HIV prevention, and sexual and reproductive health.
3. Keep adolescent girls free from violence: Prevent and protect girls from all forms of gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation, and ensure that girls who experience violence receive prompt protection, services and access to justice.
4. Promote adolescent girl leaders: Ensure that adolescent girls gain essential economic and social skills and are supported by mentors and resources to participate in community life.
5. Count adolescent girls: Work with partners to collect, analyse, and use data on adolescent girls to advocate for, develop and monitor evidence-based policies and programmes that advance their well-being and realize their human rights.
We will work in a coordinated manner with other relevant global initiatives. We call on Member States to join us in accelerating efforts to protect the rights of adolescent girls. Together, we can build a future of gender equality and social justice.
Juan Somavia Director General, ILO
Ann M. Veneman Executive Director, UNICEF
Irina Bokova Director General, UNESCO
Inés Alberdi Executive Director, UNIFEM
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid Executive Director, UNFPA
Margaret Chan Director General, WHO