The UN, the Aydın Doğan Foundation, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN WOMEN have organized a conference for the International Day of the Girl on October 11 that will be celebrated for the fourth time this year in order to remove obstacles before girls, to empower them and to ensure that they fully benefit from their human rights.
The conference for the International Day of the Girl had the theme of “Powerful Girls for a Strong Future,” and it was emphasized at the conference that the more powerful girls become, the safer, healthier and more successful the future of Turkey will be.
After a decision taken by the General Assembly of the UN with the initiative of Turkey, Peru and Canada, numerous events with the aim of drawing attention to the problems of the disadvantaged girls around the world have taken place on October 11 since 2012.
This year, “The International Day of the Girl Conference” was organized in Turkey to draw attention to the “International Day of the Girl,” and to shed light on the difference education creates in girls’ lives by the UN, the Aydın Doğan Foundation, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN WOMEN.
The conference had the theme of “Powerful Girls for a Strong Future” and Kamal Malhotra, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey gave the opening speech. Malhotra said that, “If we can support them effectively, girls will have the power to change the world as not only the strong young women of today, but also the businesswomen, the mothers, the entrepreneurs, the artists, the mentors and the political leaders of tomorrow.”
Hanzade Doğan Boyner: “The public and private sectors, the NGOs and international organizations should cooperate to solve the problem of gender inequality...”
Hanzade Doğan Boyner, the President of the Aydın Doğan Foundation, also shared UN data confirming the issues experienced by women the world over in her opening speech: “According to UN research, 66 million girls in the world cannot go to school. 116 million girls between the ages of 15 and 24 cannot graduate from primary school. However, every year a mother spends at school decreases the rate of infant deaths by 5-10%. If every mother in the world were a primary school graduate, two thirds of the maternal mortality rate would be eliminated. This data points towards the issues we need to overcome for a brighter future and stronger tomorrows.”
Hanzade Doğan Boyner continued her speech by saying, “Corruption, the ineffectiveness of law, poverty... All of these are the common problems of underdeveloped countries. It is not possible to solve these through the inequality between man and women. We cannot bring peace into this world without solving these problems. We cannot get rid of hunger, the immigrant issue and wars without this!” noting that the public and private sectors, the NGOs and international organizations should cooperate to achieve this.
Hanzade Doğan Boyner emphasized that they had organized the International Day of the Girl Conference as the Aydın Doğan Foundation in cooperation with the leading organizations of the UN, giving examples of the contributions of the "Daddy, Send Me To School Project," in its 10th year, to the lives of young girls and their families:
“We have had 33 dormitories built for female students with the "Daddy, Send Me To School" campaign" thus far. We have had schools built in 12 villages that did not have schools before. We have given scholarships to more than 10 thousand girls throughout their education... But, beyond that, the research we conducted to measure the social impact of our project shows that BBGO (Daddy, Send Me To School) girls continue their education, and that those girls staying at BBGO dormitories become more active participants in economic life. As our first aim, we made sure that each girl at the age of primary education is registered at a school. Our next step should be working to make sure that the girls continue their education and gain professions. There is so much work we need to do apart from educating women for them to have a presence both in business and social life. From now on, as the Aydın Doğan Foundation, we will be focusing on issues such as women’s right to be individuals, to express themselves and to exist unto themselves.”
UNICEF Deputy Representative Wiel: Investing in girls is a smart route to a sustainable future”
Leike wan de Wiel, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Turkey commented that, “As a matter of fact, to invest in adolescent girls is one of the smartest ways to guarantee a better and more sustainable future for all of us. Adolescent girls have the potential and power to change their families, the societies, their nations and the world they are a part of. In addition to this, perhaps the most important consideration is that they have the right to a more prosperous future that goes beyond the material.”
The United Nations Population Fund–Kulessa, UNFPA Representative in Turkey and the Director of UNFPA in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia: “Girls are at the centre of the development agenda...”
Karl Kulessa, the UNFPA Representative in Turkey made the opening speech of the panel entitled “The power of young women: Qualified education for all children” organized within the scope of the conference, noting that, “Young people, especially girls, are at the centre of the development agenda. Protecting their rights and supporting them in taking full advantage of qualified education and decent employment, developing their skills to make a living and making sure that they can readily access reproductive health services means investing in their future. And this is of great importance not only for girls themselves, but for the advancement of their families, societies and countries. That is why governments, international organizations, the private sector and NGOs should take action to work together.”
UN WOMEN Representative Gisladottir: “We can empower girls by getting boys on our side”
Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, the UN Women's Europe and Middle East Regional Director and Representative in Turkey also stated that investing in the empowerment of girls and creating an environment where they can grow up without being subject to violence and discrimination should be one of Turkey’s developmental goals commenting that, “Everyone should fulfill their responsibility in creating a society where girls and boys can realize their potential... Girls are empowered by their skills and creativity. As adults, and as role models and mentors, we should tell girls what kind of world ‘a world of gender equality’ could be. Unfortunately, girls still face discrimination. Governments and societies must take action for girls to be absolutely free. We can make this happen by providing extensive services and protection. We can remove the obstacles blocking the education of girls, guarantee that they have access to sexual and reproductive health rights and services and of course, get men and boys on our side to improve social gender equality, and by doing so, empowering girls. More powerful girls will mean a safer, healthier and successful future for us.”