Innovating for Girls’ Education: Empowering for Equality — Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Message by UN Women Executive Director on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October 2013


On the International Day of the Girl Child, I have one message: Universal quality public education that is engendered is key to providing a strong foundation for democracy, women’s empowerment and the realization of equality.

The focus this year on Innovating for Girls’ Education is important as we strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. While school enrollment rates are rising, too many girls continue to be left behind. They are deprived of their right to education. The barriers standing in their way include poverty and gender-based discrimination and violence.  In addition, the poor quality of education reduces the possible benefits of education for both girls and boys.

To break through these barriers, we must fully harness innovation and technology to reach poor and marginalized girls and improve the quality of education for all. UN Women strongly supports the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative and its three priorities to put every child in school, to improve the quality of learning, and to foster global citizenship. We will work with our partners to improve the quality of learning so that every girl and boy can grow up with mutual respect, dignity and equality.

Education can play a role in preventing violence against women and girls. Today one in three women are subjected to violence, and more than half of all victims of sexual assault are girls under the age of 16. 

UN Women is proud to announce the roll-out today of a new initiative to prevent violence against girls. The unique curriculum, Voices against Violence, will be delivered by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts among its 10 million members in 145 countries.

The curriculum was developed within a broader education and advocacy framework under WAGGGS’ global campaign Stop the Violence; Speak Out for Girls Rights, and has been tested among 1500 members of the girl guiding movement in 25 countries. Already, those who participated in the pilot programme have measured and reported changes in the level of knowledge and understanding of gender issues, and engaged parents and community members in dialogues and actions.

Today and every day, UN Women will stand up for the rights of women and girls and equality and dignity for all.