Why we need to invest in adolescent girls

Educated and healthy girls stay in school longer, marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children, develop life skills, and earn higher incomes. They can help lift themselves and their present and future families out of poverty.

Current youth-serving programmes are not reaching the most marginalized adolescent girls who continue to be left out or overlooked. Doing more of the same will continue their marginalization.

Educated and healthy girls stay in school longer, marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children, develop life skills, and earn higher incomes. They can help lift themselves and their present and future families out of poverty.

Current youth-serving programmes are not reaching the most marginalized adolescent girls who continue to be left out or overlooked. Doing more of the same will continue their marginalization.

We need to make an effort to identify and reach the most vulnerable girls through programmes that are tailored according to their unique circumstances. 

Investments should provide spaces for vulnerable girls to become literate and develop basic skills, critical health care knowledge, obtain access to social services including sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, gain vocational and employable skills for work, and have access to friends and mentors.

Married girls need specially targeted strategies that provide access to education, life skills, health including SRH and HIV prevention, and participation opportunities.

Maternal health programmes need to be reoriented with dedicated outreach for the youngest, first-time mothers to use antenatal, essential and emergency obstetric care, and post-delivery services.

An adolescent girl will be an active citizen in her community. She will become a mother when she is ready and invest in her future children’s health and education. She will be able to contribute fully to her society and break the cycle of poverty.

When investments in girls are made, everyone benefits: their families, communities, and most importantly, the girls themselves.

UNFPA’S role
 

  • UNFPA works with governments and partners at all levels to foster supportive policies, legislation and dialogue about adolescent girls’ human rights and dignity. We bring greater attention to their needs and realities, given the harmful and life-threatening risks they face from child marriage.  
     
  • With communities, UNFPA supports programmes that enable elders, parents, faith-based organizations and other influential leaders to identify the dangers of child marriage to girls, promote their rights, and find community-owned solutions to collectively discourage and eventually end the practice. 
     
  • UNFPA assists the most marginalized and vulnerable girls in deferring marriage by advocating for girls to stay in school; building their life skills; providing them safe spaces to learn, play and make friends; providing sexual and reproductive health and HIV information and services; and improving their overall economic and social well-being.
     
  • There is a huge cost to inaction on child marriage. It is time for policy makers, parliamentarians, communities, families and young people to address this issue head on

Let’s deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. Let’s let girls be girls.