Statement

Statement by Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, UNFPA Representative, Ghana, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary celebrations of the International Day of the Girl Child

11 October 2016

Chairperson,

The Executive Director: Hope for Future Generations, Board and Staff of HFFG, Representatives of Ministries,

Departments and Agencies,

Enthusiastic Young People,

Friends of the Media,

Distinguished Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

The International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC), is marked annually on October 11 and it focuses on promoting girls' empowerment and highlighting the unique challenges they face around the world. These challenges include, but are not limited to, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child labour, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination, gender inequality and limited access to education and health care. The IDGC creates opportunity for advocacy on how girls can obtain the investment and recognition they deserve as citizens and as powerful agents of change within their own families, communities and nations.

Madam Chair,

I am honoured to be here today celebrating with Hope for Future Generation its fifteenth ‘birthday anniversary’, marking more or less its evolution into a 2 healthy and responsible adolescent. HFFG’s focus on giving every woman, child and young person equal opportunity closely aligns with the fundamentals of the UNFPA’s mandate which is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and ever young person’s potential is fulfilled. So, we are extremely happy to celebrate with HFG this important milestone in its evolution as a people-centered organization.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Data Movement”, recognizes that what counts for girls is that they should be counted. Data that can make the lives of every girl, in every setting, visible and accessible are essential to sustained progress. With access to the relevant data and information, policymakers, communities, civil society organizations, youth-led groups, activists and girls themselves can shape policies and initiatives that positively affect the lives of millions of girls around the world.

Madam Chair,

Though the commemoration focuses on the girl child and the importance of data on them, it is sad to point out that data on very young adolescents (10- 14) hardly exist. This situation is due to the fact that the 10-14 year olds are minors and there are huge ethical challenges with collecting data from them on different aspects of their lives, attitudes and views without parental consent or in the presence of their parents and/or other adults. Thus, research ethics clearance requirements for collecting data from this age group are often too complex and tedious for most researchers or research institutions to meet. If getting data in general on this age group is so difficult, then we can imagine the challenge if we need, for example, to generate specific data on adolescent girls with disability. But where there is a will, there is a way - if key stakeholders attach the requisite importance to the well-being of adolescent girls, the needed data on them would be collected. Other challenges are that policies on adolescents and young people aged 10 to 24 years are subsumed within many others as government policies define children as aged 0 to 18 years, and youth as aged 15-35 years. Adolescents 3 and young people fall within these two population groups and tend to be obscured in the policies. It is for these reasons that we are highlighting the need for a “Global Girls Data Movement” to address gender gaps in data collection, analysis, dissemination and use. Specifically, it emphasizes the rights of girls and the relationship between progress for girls and progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Nananom

UNFPA has been collaborating with HFFG in addressing issues affecting vulnerable populations in society for many years and I recall that in August this year, the Executive Director of HFFG and I sat on a panel with a common purpose: to advocate for the health and particularly the reproductive health needs of person’s with disability at the first scientific conference of nurses and midwives in Ghana. I am therefore happy that as part of the anniversary celebration, HFFG has come up with this visionary project known as HopePal which focuses on persons with disability with a view to moving forward some of the issues identified at the conference I just referred to.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The SDGs, adopted by member states of the United Nations in September 2015, is transforming national and local development efforts throughout the world in a commitment to leave no one behind in economic, social, and environmental development. However, in order to assess, monitor and communicate the well-being and progress of girls we need the relevant age and sex disaggregated data, as advocated for in the Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescents’ Health, 2016 – 2030. It is noteworthy that amongst adolescent girls, HFFG will be known for taking an important and admirable step to advocate for adolescent girls with disability. This is a laudable project and I urge you all, particularly the media to support it so that together we achieve the future we want, where no one is left behind. We at UNFPA are committed to supporting adolescent girls to reach their full potential and determine their own destinies. Every girl counts, every young 4 person counts, every person with disability counts. It is therefore with great pleasure and hope that I declare the HFFG visionary project in collaboration with STARR FM HopePal duly launched.

 

Thank you very much for you time and kind attention.