Today marks International Day of the Girl Child, aiming to highlight and address the challenges girls face globally, while also promoting the empowerment of girls and fulfilment of their human rights.
The theme this year is, ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce’ — and today marks the beginning of a year-long campaign to help support girls everywhere in getting the skills they need to enter the workforce.
As the United Nations notes, the theme reflects the fact that the current generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that’s being transformed by constant change, innovation and automation.
Already, educated and skilled workers are in serious demand — and this is likely to continue into the future — but as the UN notes, around a quarter of young people (the majority of them female), currently have no employment, education or training.
More than 90% of the one billion young people living in developing countries (600 million of them adolescent girl) who enter the workforce in the next decade will work in the informal sector, where exploitation, abuse and low pay is still too common.
We need to ensure girls are given the encouragement, the opportunities and the education they need to create more career and work pathways. It’s not merely up to the UN and various global NGOs, but also for all of us to support the girls in our lives and to consider how we might be able to support girls everywhere.
In pushing to build a ‘skilled girlforce’, the next year looks set to see a number of partners and stakeholders coming together to further invest in building more opportunities for girls, to highlight the issues, and to do everything possibly to support girls in getting the skills they needs — across a wide range of industries — to aid their employability.
Currently, women make up less than 30 per cent of information and communication technology graduates worldwide, and hold less than 30% of research and development roles.
Meanwhile, these are some of the sobering statistic regarding girls worldwide, according to UN Women
- 12 million girls under the age of 18 will be married this year alone
- 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 in developing regions will become pregnant
- Girls already consider boys to be more suited to ‘really, really smart’ activities by the age of six.
According to Unicef, the global community can support building a ‘Skilled Girlforce’ by:
- Rapidly expanding access to inclusive education and training.
- Improving the quality and gender-responsiveness of teaching and learning to enable girls to develop foundational, transferable and job-specific skills for life and work.
- Creating inclusive and accessible schools, training and learning opportunities to empower girls with disabilities.
- Changing gender stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias to provide girls with the same learning and career opportunities as boys.
- Increasing girls’ participating in STEM learning.
- Creating initiatives to support girls’ school-to-work transition, such as career guidance, apprenticeships, internships and entrepreneurship.
- Delivering large-scale public and private sector programming for girls’ skills and market-adapted training.
- Enabling access to finance and enterprise development for female entrepreneurs.
- Forming strategic partnerships with governments and private companies which can act as thought leaders and financiers, helping to train girls and bring them into the workforce.
Photo above: A young girl in the Bangladeshi refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar. Photo: UN Women/Allison Joyce. See more here.