The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has urged countries to ensure that young people entering into the labour market acquired skills and knowledge needed to help businesses thrive and nations prosper.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA gave the advice in a statement issued to commemorate 2018 International Day of the Girl Child on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to Kanem, investing in a skilled girl force can become a new force for innovation and leadership, adding that such investment will also enable countries to compete in a fast-changing global economy.
She said that young persons including adolescent girls should be empowered, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics among other disciplines, which are in high demand by emerging industries.
Kanem said, ”UNFPA believes in the power of girls to change this world for the better, stressing that adolescent girls and young persons should be given a chance.
“Around the world, millions of adolescent girls are waiting to claim their power and fulfil their potential; let us help them exercise their rights and realize their aspirations.
“ Let us invest in their health and education, their skills and their leadership, and then let’s get out of their way and let them lead,’’ she said.
The executive director lamented that too many girls face roadblocks on their journey to adulthood.
“Child marriage and adolescent pregnancy force millions of girls to drop out of school; harmful laws and social norms curtail girls’ knowledge and autonomy over their own bodies.
“ Entrenched gender discrimination can lay the foundation for a lifetime of missed opportunities. It doesn’t have to be this way.
”A different future is possible, and girls themselves are leading the way,’’ she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ was launched in 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly; the day is celebrated annually on October 11.
The main aims of the day are to promote girl’s empowerment and fulfillment of their human rights, while also highlighting the challenges that girls all over the world face.
The theme of 2018 International Day of the Girl is: `With Her: A Skilled Girl Force’.
The day marked the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.