New York (ABC Live): EmPOWER Girls : The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a source of power, energy, and creativity – and the millions of girls in emergencies are no exception, the United Nations said on the International Day of the Girl Child, which kicks off a year-long effort to draw global attention to and action on the challenges and opportunities girls face before, during, and after crises.
“Because of entrenched gender inequalities, disasters and conflict can make a bad situation even worse for girls,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, in a statement marking the International Day, which this year is on the theme, ‘EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises.’
“They and their families, struggling to survive, are left with few choices, leaving girls even more vulnerable to child marriage, sexual- and gender-based violence, including trafficking, rape and sexual slavery,” she added.
According to the Organization’s main entity on gender issues, UN Women, due to growing conflict, instability and inequality in 2017, 128.6 million people are expected to need humanitarian assistance, and more than three-quarters of those forced to flee are women and children.
“No society will flourish and no peace agreement will be lasting without empowering girls in peacebuilding and reconstruction,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “It is time to put this imperative at the heart of all of our efforts in addressing fragility, conflict and violence.”
Our special photo story on the International Day examines the challenges girls face during emergencies and highlights the critical role they play in building a better future for themselves and their communities.