advocacy

Empowering 10-year old girls today can improve the lives of hundreds of thousands, UNFPA says

9:35 PM

What were you doing when you were 10? Me? I was a fourth grade student studying in a private university. As soon as I get home, I change into my house clothes, and bring all my school essentials to our small sari-sari store because I'll be duty until we close it at 9pm. My cousin who minds the store in the day has to attend night school. My cousin and I both studied in the same private university because it was where my mom taught part-time. My tuition was free, while hers was deducted from my mother's salary. My mom, when  at 10, was a househelp who worked her way to college. If it were not for her, I don't think I, my siblings, and our cousins, would ever finish schooling and have this comfortable life we have now. But not all 10-year old girls are as lucky.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) notes that girls all over the world are challenged with the likes of HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and child labor. All of these prevent them from realizing their full potential as adults, thus, preventing them from making a meaningful contribution to the society. Without their contribution, the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals may never be achieved.


Mr. Klaus Beck, UNFPA Representative in the Philippines shares that these obstacles that girls all over the world are facing are actually a violation of their rights. Girls should be able to have a healthy path towards adolescence to a productive and fulfilling adulthood. Girls who reach adulthood with an education and their health and rights intact could triple their lifetime incomes. "That's an extra 12.8% of today's GDP," he adds.

Why 10 years old? Ten is a pivotal age for girls everywhere, as puberty approaches. In some parts of the world, a girl at this age enjoys limitless possibilities and begins making choices on her education
and later life. But elsewhere, girls are seen as commodities to be bought, sold or traded. She may be forced to marry, pulled out of school, and forced to bear children and begin a life of servitude.

Why girls? These girls will become mothers who will eventually mold their children's lives. What values and knowledge can they pass on if they are not literate or if they become unwed, young mothers?

To help ensure the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, these 10-year old girls' access to education, age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education, and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and advice should be ensured.

The new development agenda, endorsed by world leaders in 2015, is global blueprint peace, prosperity, and a sustainable future to 2030, leaving no one behind. Removing the obstacles that hold 10-year old girls back today will help make sure the agenda is a success according to UNFPA's report.

The State of World Population report also notes that of the 125 million 10-year olds today, 60 million are girls who are systematically disadvantaged at the global level as they move through adolescence into adulthood. Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels, are more likely to  be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs.

The real challenge now is to help empower these girls, especially the poorest and most vulnerable by age 10. With support from family, community, and nation, and the full realization of her rights, a 10-year old girl can succeed and we all can enjoy the future that we want.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled. For more information, please contact: Matthew Taylor at +639064749730 or email taylor@unfpa.org.

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