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International Day of the Girl Child Conference

Experts and young people will say "The time is now!" at this year’s regional conference, live-streamed on YouTube

This year’s International Day of the Girl Child Conference is entitled “The Time is Now! Girls’ Leadership in the Digital Era” and is organized by UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women in partnership with Aydın Doğan Foundation. On 11 October 2021 the conference will address global and regional needs of girls and young women, including challenging stereotypes, claiming their rights, and building a more equitable world for girls, boys, women and men in the digital era.

The International Day of the Girl Child Conference has been organized by UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women in Turkey, in partnership with Aydın Doğan Foundation, since 2015 in order to highlight barriers faced by adolescent girls in leveraging their potential. This year’s event will be held in a hybrid format, with both face-to-face and online participation, in accordance with pandemic precautions, and will be live-streamed on YouTube. In 2021, the conference is expanding its scope and reach to address global and regional needs of girls and young women and aims to strengthen collective action in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region. The participants - including regional, national and international experts, renowned names in their fields, and youth - will highlight the potential, motivation and skills of the current generation of adolescent girls to lead the way in the digital era. The conference will advocate for action for girls’ leadership in the digital age, with a specific focus on how the current generation of young girls and women participate, challenge stereotypes and claim their rights in the era of digital interaction and learning. The keynote speaker of the conference will be Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Vuslat Doğan Sabancı: "We must support girls to lead in the digital world"

Aydın Doğan Foundation Board of Directors Deputy Chairperson Vuslat Doğan Sabancı underlining that the main mission of the Foundation is education of young girls, and that they aim for a world where girls are stronger and take lead in all matters, added, "Thanks to the efforts made, much progress has been made in protecting and promoting women’s and girls’ rights. However, despite all the positive developments, women and girls still face inequalities worldwide. We are witnessing that girls are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We know that there is a 17 percent gender gap in internet use worldwide. Most jobs will soon require high-tech skills and countries around the world, including Turkey, will need more digital talent. But today's digital inequality poses a serious challenge for young girls and women to access the labor market, which increasingly demands digital skills and knowledge. The key to bridging this gap is to remove common prejudices against young girls pursuing science and IT-related subjects. To ensure that no one is left behind, we must equip our girls with skills so they can have more opportunities. Additionally, we must use all our strength to keep this very important issue on the agenda. We must support girls’ leading the way in the digital world. Despite all these negativities, we do not despair and we always keep in mind that this is a marathon. We are aware of the power of girls and we continue to support them so that they can become leaders in the digital age, even in unprecedented times such as the pandemic.”

UNICEF Representative in Turkey Regina De Dominicis, “Despite the numerous global challenges, girls are standing up and demanding change. From standing up for their right to education, speaking up against violence, or fighting for climate and social justice, girls around the world are powerful advocates and changemakers in their communities. Provided with skills, opportunities and space to engage, the world’s 600 million adolescent girls today can become the largest generation of female leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers the world has ever seen. Now is a critical time to continue investing in their development and make sure that they are equipped to seize the opportunities provided by our digital era. We cannot afford to live in a world where scientific and technological solutions are rapidly scaling, transforming our economies and societies and exclude half of the world’s talent. It is time to work in partnership, whenever possible… public and private sector, civil society, young people themselves. As UNICEF we are proud to stand with and for girls as they become leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.”

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Turkey Representative Hassan Mohtashami, “As UNFPA, we advocate for empowering girls and supporting their leadership in the digital world, so that young people can realize their full potential and build a better world, particularly around their sexual and reproductive health and rights. In addition, we know that a girl who is aware of her own abilities against cyberbullying and digital violence and who learns to claim the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination, will not only be the leader of her own life, but also contribute to a more free, equal and safe world. We will continue to work for gender equality while leaving no one behind, also in the digital age.”

UN Women Turkey Country Director Asya Varbanova, “Information and communications technologies are critical to life in the 21st century – to learning and education, to accessing services, to having decent jobs, to obtaining information and to maintaining social connections. If girls do not have access to, control over and full use of technology, they will simply be left behind. We need an ambitious collective action, together with young people, civil society, governments, and the private sector, to ensure that women and girls have equal access to digital technologies and opportunities to design and lead digital innovations.”

Young people and stakeholders will meet both in-person and online

As part of the International Day of the Girl Child Conference, which will take place in a hybrid format with face-to-face and online participation due to the pandemic conditions, young people and stakeholders will come together in a series of events that will start at 4 pm and last until 6.30 pm. The conference will incorporate a series of activities including panels with young representatives, public figures and experts, a youth statement prepared by young people, video messages from well-known names from the region, experts, and Q&A sessions. Following the first panel on “Girls’ Empowerment in the Digital Age: Opportunities and Challenges”, in the second panel “Digital Sphere and Skills for Advancing Gender Equality” will be discussed in depth.