The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer an opportunity for a global commitment to breaking intergenerational transmission of poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination – and realizing our vision of a life of dignity for all, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared, marking the International Day of the Girl Child.
“Our task now is to get to work on meeting the SDG targets and making good on our promises to give girls all the opportunities they deserve as they mature to adulthood by 2030,” said Mr. Ban in his message on the Day, referring to the newly–adopted 2030 Agenda and its landmark 17 Global Goals.
That means enabling them to avoid child marriage and unwanted pregnancy, protect against HIV transmission, stay safe from female genital mutilation, and acquire the education and skills they need to realize their potential.
“It also requires ensuring their sexual health and reproductive rights. Girls everywhere should be able to lead lives free from fear and violence. If we achieve this progress for girls, we will see advances across society,” continued the UN chief.
The Secretary-general recalled that just after the adoption last month of the Global Goals for, world leaders heard a ringing call from Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was flanked in the General Assembly Hall by young people from around the world. 'Promise us that you will keep your commitments and invest in our future,' she urged.
“Three years ago, on the International Day of the Girl Child, I condemned the attack against Malala and called for more opportunities for girls everywhere. Today, I applaud her courage and that of her peers, who only want the chance to contribute to our world,” said the Secretary-General.
“Let us resolve to invest in today's adolescent girls so that tomorrow they can stand strong as citizens, political leaders, entrepreneurs, heads of their households and more. This will secure their rights and our common future,” he declared.
In her remarks UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the cadre of 15-year-old girls living today were born at the advent of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into a world of hope. Not all of those hopes were fulfilled. Many have already dropped out of school to look after family members or take informal work to help support the family.
“More than 250 million of our 15-year-olds are already married, too many are facing the likelihood of HIV infection, especially given the high unmet needs for family planning…and every 10 minutes somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies by violent means,” she said, adding that: “These, and the generations that follow them, are the young women for whom we are working so hard.”