United Nations


Division for the Advancement of Women

6 November 1997

                                                        6 November 1997

                                  Report of the 
                              Expert Group Meeting on

                        Adolescent Girls and Their Rights

                             Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
                              13 - 17 October 1997




I.  Organization of work. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       1 - 18

    A.   Attendance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       1 -  2
    B.   Documentation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            3
    C.   Adoption of the agenda . . . . . . . . . . . .            4
    D.   Election of officers . . . . . . . . . . . . .            5
    E.   Opening statements . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       6 - 14
    F.   Working groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      15 - 18

II. Summary of debate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      19 - 51

    A.   Adolescent girls in need of special protection      27 - 36
    B.   Health of adolescent girls including reproductive and 
         sexual health and nutrition. . . . . . . . . .      37 - 44
    C.   Creating an enabling environment for the realization of 
         human rights and empowerment of  adolescent girls   45 - 51

III.     Conclusions and recommendations. . . . . . . .      52 - 117

    A.   General conclusions and recommendations. . . .      53 - 63
    B.   Area-specific conclusions and recommendations.      64 - 117
              1. Adolescent girls in need of special 
                  protection                                 64 - 75
              2. Health of adolescent girls including reproductive 
                         and sexual health and nutrition     76 - 108
              3. Creating an enabling environment for the realization 
                  of human rights and empowerment of 
                  adolescent girls                          109 - 117


I.     List of participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      35 - 40

II.    List of documents. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      41 - 43

III.   Agenda of the meeting. . . . . . . . . . . . . .      44 - 46

IV.    Composition of working groups. . . . . . . . . .           47


  The Expert Group Meeting on -Adolescent Girls and their Rights' was
organized in accordance with the provisions of the Beijing Platform for
Action.  The Platform underlines that "discrimination and neglect in childhood
can initiate a lifelong downward spiral of deprivation and exclusion from the
social mainstream" (paragraph 260).  The Platform recommends that "initiatives
be taken to prepare girls to participate actively, effectively and equally
with boys at all levels of social, economic, political and cultural
leadership" (paragraph 260).  Governments and actors of civil society are
called upon to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls, inter
alia, in the areas of education, skills development and training and health
care.  Furthermore, they are called upon to eliminate negative cultural
attitudes and practices against girls, and protect their rights and increase
awareness of girls' needs and potential.

  As part of preparation for the forthcoming forty-second session of the
Commission on the Status of Women, the Expert Group Meeting was organized
jointly by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund
(UNFPA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).  This
cooperation was a reflection of the interagency commitment to mainstream a
gender perspective throughout the United Nations system.  Furthermore, it made
it possible to examine the topic and evaluate the implementation process of
the Beijing Platform for Action from three different perspectives: (i)
adolescent girls in need of special protection (as defined by the United
Nations Children's Fund); (ii) health of adolescent girls, including
reproductive and sexual health and nutrition; and (iii) creating an enabling
environment for the realization of human rights and empowerment of adolescent
girls.  The meeting also gave due emphasis to the situation of adolescent
girls in the African region in all three areas.

                       I.     ORGANIZATION OF WORK

A.     Attendance

1.     The Expert Group Meeting on -Adolescent Girls and their Rights' was
held at the Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13 to
17 October 1997.  It was jointly organized by the United Nations Division for
the Advancement of Women/Department for Economic and Social Affairs
(DAW/DESA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

2.     The Meeting was attended by nine experts representing all geo-
political regions, and 53 observers: 25 from Governments, two from inter-
governmental organizations, 16 from the United Nations system and 10 from non-
governmental organizations (see annex I for the full list of participants).

B.     Documentation 

3.     The documentation of the Meeting comprised two background papers
prepared by DAW and UNICEF; 10 experts's  papers; two observers' statements
and 10 reference papers prepared for other purposes and submitted because of
their relevance (see annex II).

C.     Adoption of the agenda

4.     At its opening session on 13 October 1997 the Meeting adopted the
agenda as follows (see annex III):
  - Opening ceremony
  - Election of officers
  - Adoption of the agenda
  - Panel discussions: - Adolescent girls in need of special protection
                       - Health of adolescent girls, including reproductive
                         and sexual health and nutrition
                       - Creating an enabling environment for the realization
                         of human rights  and empowerment of adolescent girls
    - Working group discussions on the above three themes
    - Conclusion of working group discussions
    - Drafting of the report
    - Adoption of reports from working groups
    - Adoption of the EGM's report
    - Closing of the meeting.

D.         Election of officers

5.  At its opening session the Meeting elected the following officers to the

    Chairperson  Prof. Savitri W.E. Goonesekere   (Sri Lanka)
    Vice-Chairperson Ms. Jane A. Kwawu   (Ghana)
    Rapporteur   Dr. Herbert L. Friedman   (USA)

E.         Opening statements

6.  The Expert Group Meeting was opened by Ms. Josephine Ouedraogo, Director,
African Centre for Women of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa,
who welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of holding this
Meeting at the Economic Commission for Africa. 

7.  In her opening statement, Ms. Angela E. V. King, Assistant Secretary-
General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and
Advancement of Women, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Secretary-
General and expressed her appreciation to the Executive Secretary of the
Economic Commission for Africa for hosting the Meeting, and also thanked the
other partners, the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations
Population Fund, for their cooperation and the commitment to the cause of
gender equality and improvement of the situation of adolescent girls.  

8.  The Assistant Secretary-General referred to the recent situation of the
African continent where the international community has observed armed
conflicts with devastating consequences, and stressed that the Expert Group
Meeting would discuss global strategies to ensure that girls were not
victimized in this way.  She commended the Economic Commission for Africa for
its devoted efforts in promoting social, economic, political and legal
equality of women and girls in Africa.  She further recalled that it was
African women who demanded that international attention be given to the
situation of girls worldwide by insisting on the inclusion of the girl-child
as one of the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action. 
She also recalled how their commitment was further emphasized at the First
Summit of African First Ladies for Peace and Humanitarian Issues held in
Abuja, Nigeria, 5-7 May 1997.  

9.  She further noted that despite the various international commitments and
agreements that recognized the need to achieve equality between girls and
boys, girls were still subjected to discrimination through their childhood and
into adulthood.  She pointed out to a crucial link between the well-being of
today's girls and the status of tomorrow's women and emphasized that
adolescence was the period of physical and emotional transition from childhood
to adulthood which was critical for personal development and for establishing
their position and roles in society.  Yet, few studies have focussed on
adolescent girls or sought to explore ways to redress the situation.

10. The Assistant Secretary-General noted that the Expert Group Meeting was
expected to aid a better understanding of the situations of adolescent girls
and the enjoyment of their rights, and to assess the progress made in the
implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in this area.  She further
recalled that the issues of the girl-child would be taken up by the Commission
on the Status of Women at its forty-second session in March 1998 as part of
its commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.  She expressed hope that the Expert Group Meeting
would elaborate action-oriented measures that would facilitate the
implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and guide all actors of
society to respect, protect and promote the rights of adolescent girls and to
create an enabling environment for their empowerment. 

11. In his opening statement, Mr. K.Y. Amoako, the Executive Secretary of the
Economic Commission for Africa, reiterated the importance of addressing the
rights of adolescent girls in the context of Africa's economic, social and
political development.  He noted that adolescent girls in Africa were
subjected to profound disadvantages, and highlighted some of the relevant
statistics.  He further stated that while it was increasingly recognized that
the investment in girls would help reduce poverty, slow the population
explosion and promote economic growth, the world, including the region of
Africa, continued to deprive girls and women of the opportunities to benefit
from development, or even to contribute fully to its process.

12. The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission reiterated his
commitment to promote gender equality in Africa.  The Commission recently
strengthened its capacity to mainstream a gender perspective into all aspects
of its work programmes and made gender a crosscutting issue in its policies
and programmes.  The Commission also began preparing for a major consultation
conference entitled "Forging Partnerships for Africa's Future: Gender

13. The Executive Secretary called for measures to be taken in modifying laws
and regulations to ensure equal opportunity for girls, formulating gender-
sensitive macro- and micro- economic policies, revising national budgets to
secure investment in girls and introducing affirmative actions where wide
disparities persisted.  He further touched upon the importance of citizenship
training for girls and their access to information and participation in the
information flow.

14. In his opening statement, Mr. Marcel Diouf, representing the Organization
of African Unity, welcomed the participants and expressed his appreciation for
the joint effort of four United Nations entities which brought the Meeting to
Ethiopia.  He also stressed the importance of hosting this Meeting in Africa. 
He further stated that the recommendations of the Meeting should guide African
countries in their continuing efforts to implement  the Beijing Platform for

F.         Working groups

15. The working groups were organized around the three major themes as

      (i) Adolescent girls in need of special protection;
     (ii) Health of adolescent girls, including reproductive and sexual
    health and nutrition;
    (iii) Enabling environment for the empowerment of adolescent girls.

The composition of all working groups is listed in annex IV.

16. Working group 1 discussed the situation of adolescent girls in need of
special protection.  The discussion was moderated by Ms. Mary H. Purcell
(Working Group on Girls/NGO Committee for UNICEF), and Ms. Anitha Ro"nstro"m
(expert) served as the rapporteur.  Ms. Sree Gururaja, UNICEF, assisted the
work of the group.  

17. Working group 2 discussed the issues of health of adolescent girls,
including reproductive and sexual health and nutrition.  The discussion was
moderated by Dr. Herbert Friedman (expert), and Ms. Jane Kwawu (expert) served
as the rapporteur.  Mr. James Chui, UNFPA, assisted the work of the group.

18. Working Group 3 discussed the issues of creating an enabling environment
for the realization of human rights and empowerment of adolescent girls.  The
discussion was moderated by Prof. Savitri Goonesekere (expert), and Ms. Bani
Dugal Gujral (Baha'i International Community) served as the rapporteur.  Ms.
Dorota Gierycz, DAW/DESA, assisted the work of the group.  


19. The issue of the girl-child was firmly placed on the international agenda
by the 1990 Declaration of the World Summit for Children which accorded
priority attention to the girl child for survival, development and protection.

The Programme of Action, adopted by the international community at the
International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in
1994, highlighted the need to improve the situation of the girl-child, to
eliminate all forms of discrimination against her, and to increase public
awareness of her value.  The Regional Conference on Women, held in Dakar in
November 1994, in preparation for the Fourth World Conference on Women,
adopted the African Platform for Action which clearly identified the crucial
link between the well-being of today's girls and the status of tomorrow's
women.  Consequently, the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth
World Conference of Women, included "the girl-child" in its twelve critical
areas of concern.  

20. The international community has acknowledged that the equal rights of
girls and the equal participation of women in the social, cultural, economic
and political life of societies is a prerequisite for successful and
sustainable development.  For those countries who have ratified the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and
the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the achievement of equality
between girls and boys and the elimination of discrimination against girls are
legal obligations.

21. The Beijing Platform for Action seeks to promote and protect the full
realization of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women throughout
their life-cycle.  The Platform identifies twelve critical areas of concern
in which major actions are designed to overcome the existing obstacles and to
advance the status of women.  The chapter on the girl-child, one of the
critical areas of concern, recognizes that in many countries the girl-child
faces discrimination in all stages of life, from birth, through childhood and
into adulthood despite the progress in advancing the status of women
worldwide.  The Platform argues that due to this discriminatory environment,
girls often receive limited opportunities for education and consequently lack
knowledge and the skills needed to advance their status in society.  The
Platform underscores the responsibility of Governments to protect and promote
the rights of the girls and recommends eliminating all barriers in order to
enable girls to develop their full potential and skills through equal access
to education and training, nutrition, physical and mental health care and
related information.  The Platform also notes that girls are less encouraged
than boys to participate in and learn about the social, economic and political
functioning of society and urges Governments to take action to provide access
for girls to training and information to enable them to articulate their
views, and to promote the equality and participation of girls in society.

22. Since the Fourth World Conference on Women, greater attention has been
paid at all levels by Governments, the United Nations system and other
international institutions and non-governmental organizations to the needs of
girl children.  However, not enough action was taken to redress the
discrimination and difficulties they face, in particular during adolescence. 
Adolescents are caught between childhood and adulthood, in terms of their
social status and physical development.  Adolescent girls have needs that
differ significantly from those of boys because of their expected biological
and social roles, and are often discriminated on the accounts of both their
age and their sex. 

23. In order to contribute toward a better understanding of the factors
affecting the situation of  adolescent girls and their rights the present
Expert Group Meeting was convened.  It allowed consideration of these issues
in a human rights context. The Meeting recognized that improvement of the
situation of adolescent girls cannot be made without realizing both the civil
rights and socio-economic rights guaranteed by international treaties
including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the
Elimination of  All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  

24. The Meeting provided an opportunity to assess  progress in implementation
of the relevant provisions of the Beijing Platform for Action, in order to
provide substantive input to the report on the subject which will be submitted
to the Commission on the Status of Women at its forty-second session in March
1998 and to contribute to the Commission's debate on -the girl-child'. The
meeting proposed action-oriented measures aimed at the accelerated
implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in this important area.

25. The Expert Group Meeting identified the following predisposing and
determining factors which contribute to the vulnerable situation of adolescent

         The slow pace of dissemination and implementation of the Convention
on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women;
        The low and unequal status accorded to girls and women from birth
resulting in low self-esteem among girls;

        Poverty in the high proportion of female-headed households and poor
access to basic services;

        Lack of social policies which recognize the situation of adolescent
girls and the girl-child in general;

        Urbanization, the social impact of globalization and structural
adjustment policies.

26. The Expert Group Meeting noted that the rights of adolescent girls should
be seen as an integral part of human rights and that girls be enabled to
develop fully and contribute to all spheres of life. They need to be given the
skills and knowledge which contribute to their self-esteem in order to become
more self-reliant and be active participants in society.  The Meeting focused
on the following critical aspects relevant to improving the situation of
adolescent girls:

        Adolescent girls in need of special protection, which include girls
in armed conflict situations; refugee girls; girls who are sexually exploited;
girls with disability; working girls; girls living in conditions of  temporary
or permanent loss of family and/or primary care givers and; girls affected by
deficient laws and abusive legal and judicial processes;

        Health, including reproductive and sexual health and nutrition;

        Creating an enabling environment for the empowerment of adolescent

A.         Adolescent girls in need of special protection

27. The rights of girls are enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC).  Both Conventions contain mutually reinforcing
principles which, if fully implemented, would ensure the protection and
fulfillment of the rights of girls and put an end to gender-based
discrimination.  Although adolescent girls have special needs and face many
especially difficult circumstances on the way to womanhood, their specific
situation and needs remain largely ignored and neglected.

28. The papers presented by the experts focused on ways to strengthen the
implementation of existing binding treaties under international law especially
the CRC and the CEDAW, in order to protect adolescent girls in especially
difficult circumstances, and to prevent or ameliorate their problems and
ensure the implementation of their human rights.  While some 191 countries
have ratified the CRC and some 166 countries have ratified the CEDAW, there
remains a large gap between the State obligations resulting from those
Conventions and their reflection in national legislation and effective
implementation. The increasingly important role of NGOs in supporting
implementation of these instruments has been noted.

29. The papers also discussed measures to be taken by Governments, local
authorities, NGOs and other responsible groups in society for the protection
of adolescent girls and to address their developmental needs.  They identified
and highlighted examples and best practices that demonstrate what can be done
to meet the needs and ensure protection of adolescent girls in need of special

30. Globalization, poverty, erosion of values, and family and community ties
made adolescent girls increasingly exposed to the sex industry, child
pornography, trafficking in women and children.  These phenomena were neither
confronted with adequate legal and political measures at national and
international levels, nor sufficiently addressed by civil society.

31. Although the situation varies greatly from region to region and even
within countries, a common thread seems to be the lower value ascribed to
girls in relation to boys in virtually all countries.  In addition, rapid
urbanization, growing economic disparities between rich and poor and
especially between the resources women and men control, gender-based violence
and armed conflict exacerbate the already distressing situation of adolescent

32. For many girls, discrimination often starts within their families and
extends to affect their educational opportunities and all other spheres of
their lives.  Their powerlessness to protect themselves from sexual assault,
early child bearing, exploitation and abuse, and the effects of war and armed
conflict robs them of the chance to enjoy their childhood and develop their
full potential.  The extent of their individual suffering is often hidden by
the overwhelming numbers of those affected.  

33. The rapid transmission of HIV/AIDS is a new threat to millions of
adolescent girls around the world, especially those who are exploited in the
sex industry.  Even a greater number of girls are losing their parents and
primary care givers to HIV/AIDS and also find themselves forced to assume
responsibility for younger siblings.  

34. Attention was given to adolescent girls who worked at home and were often
exploited and deprived of their rights, benefits and opportunities which other
adolescent girls enjoyed such as access to education, training and social

35. There are many groups of adolescent girls in need of special protection. 
They include:

       Girls with disabilities, further exacerbated as they become adolescent
and often neglected in favour of younger siblings;

       Girls in armed conflict, including combatants and refugees;

       Orphaned girls through AIDS, maternal mortality or conflict and who
lack any care giver;

       Girls subject to sexual abuse whose mothers are abroad as migrant

       Girls in conflict with the law;  

       Sexually abused girls including victims of incest, rape, forced
prostitution and sexual harassment;

       Girls subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) or suffering from
fistula, often subsequently ostracized, and devalued if they were not able to
be wives or mothers;

       Girls obliged to marry too early and consequently bear children at
young age who are more likely to suffer from maternal morbidity or mortality
as well as a curtailment of other opportunities; 

       Girls affected by the dowry or "bride price" systems; 

       Girls abducted by men, including soldiers, for marriage or sexual

       Girls used as subjects of child pornography which may cause them
lasting damage;

       Girls working under hazardous and exploitative conditions;

       Migrant girls who cross international borders.

36. Violence against adolescent girls is often hidden.  Yet there is evidence
to indicate that it is widespread, and some young people even assume it to be
the norm.  The need for proper legislation, awareness raising and education
on the rights of girls and young women is not sufficiently recognized by
planners and policy makers.

B.         Health of adolescent girls including reproductive 
           and sexual health and nutrition

37. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and
not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.  The health of adolescents
is intimately linked to their development.  Changing global conditions are
placing greater strains on young people modifying their behaviours and
relationships which are increasingly exacerbating some health problems.  These
health problems often fall on the young girls who are disadvantaged due to
their age, gender and low economic status.

38. Adolescent girls who are no longer children but not yet women, are denied
rights and protections available to adult women.  Because of their gender,
they often suffer culture-bound violations and are exploited, abused, and
denied opportunities more available to adolescent boys.  When they live in
impoverished settings, they lack access to the health services, education, and
gainful employment, all issues that have an impact on their health and well-

39. Building on the international standards set by the CRC and the CEDAW and
the consensus reached in the ICPD Programme of Action and the Beijing Platform
for Action which have recognized the rights of adolescent girls to
reproductive and sexual health, including information, counselling and
services, attention was drawn to the responsibilities of parents, communities,
Governments and international organizations in this regard.  The importance
of the active involvement of men and boys in this process was emphasized.

40. In the light of systematic discrimination against girls in many societies
as well as the conditions that force girls into early marriage and
childbearing, emphasis was placed on the critical need for self-reliance and
empowerment of adolescent girls. It is also necessary that girls be helped to
resist pressure to provide sexual favours in exchange of material goods, and
to challenge the attitudes to adolescent girls as "sex objects".  The need for
relevant in and out of school programmes and open, informed discussion of the
adolescent  girls' reproductive and sexual health was recognized as an
important way to reduce their problems with peers, parents, and medical
personnel.  Programmes are needed to raise their self-esteem, develop support
networks and re-examine the roles and impacts of existing institutions and
country-based organizations. 
41. Particular concerns expressed with regard to some health problems which
particularly affect adolescent girls include:

        Malnutrition, anaemia; 

       Sexual and reproductive health including FGM, too early and unwanted
pregnancy, adolescent maternal morbidity and mortality, unsafe abortion,
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS;

       Violence, including sexual abuse and incest;

       Mental health;

       Substance abuse including the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

42. While some progress has been made in putting the needs of adolescent
girls on the agenda of Governments, international organizations and NGOs, much
more needs to be done.  Many  programmes have been effective while others have
failed, but even the successful ones tend to  be  small scale.  The need for
new, effective means to address those issues was stressed.

43. The Meeting identified critical obstacles to adolescent girls health,
including nutrition and reproductive and sexual health, including: 

       The reluctance of society at large to address adolescent girls'
reproductive and sexual health;        

       The lack of knowledge, information and skills among young people;

       The lack of health provisions, including counselling services in all
sectors designed for adolescents;

       The lack of training for service providers and educators who interact
with young people, especially in sensitive areas such as sexuality which
require skills in confidential counselling;
       National policies, laws and practices which can be restrictive and/or
inconsistent, or those of which the general public is not aware, or those that
are inefficiently implemented, and/or those which often limit the access of
young people to services and information, for example, by requiring consent
of another party;

       Absence of national strategies for the health of young people which
could provide a  framework for health care;

      Inadequate support from the donor community. 

44. It was recognized that interventions are needed in five major areas to
improve the situation as indicated in the -WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF document entitled
"Action for Adolescent Health: Towards a Common Agenda" drawn from the Study
Group on Programming for Adolescent Health. 1/ These are:

       The provision of information; 

       Strengthening skills; 

       Access to quality health services; 

       Provision of counselling; 

       A safe and supportive environment. 

C.         Creating an enabling environment for the realization of
           human rights and empowerment of adolescent girls

45. Despite the critical importance of the adolescent period in a woman's
life, until recently, little effort has been made to accurately address and
analyse the specific situation and needs of adolescent girls with an aim to
realize their rights.  Following the United Nations Decade for Women 1976 to
1985, when data on women began to be increasingly collected and disaggregated
by sex, children continued to be profiled as a collective entity, with the
exception of data on schooling.  Lack of sex and age disaggregated data on
adolescent girls was a limitation to analysis, making it difficult to
accurately define and assess their status.  Later developments in regard to
realizing the human rights of women and children have not sufficiently helped
to give priority to issues concerning adolescent girls.  It was noted that
very few States parties reporting on the CRC or the CEDAW analyse or discuss
adolescent girls.  There is an urgent need for research in this area and the
compilation of sex and age disaggregated data will help to deepen the
understanding of the situation of adolescent girls, their status and the
achievement of gender equality among the international community. 

46. Accurate information is particularly important when analysing the
enabling environment for the empowerment of adolescent girls to exercise their
rights, as it encompasses a wide range of aspects, including education,
socialization, mass media, human rights and preparation for participation in
social and political life as full citizens.

47. Girls continue to be undervalued both by society and by themselves and
suffer from low self-esteem which prevents them from realizing their full
potential.  This could lead to the detriment, not only of themselves, but to
society as a whole.

48. There are many contributing factors to these problems including poverty,
social policies which are inadequate for addressing the development of
adolescent girls, stereotyping of adolescent girls in negative images in the
mass media which tend to portray girls as passive, or as victims or sex
objects. Teachers, textbooks and educational materials often perpetuate these
same  stereotypes of girls as passive and destined to serve others.  Girls are
not given sufficient opportunity for full education and training to equip them
for a wide variety of potential roles in life.  They are not provided with
opportunities for non-traditional jobs and are not prepared for responsible
decision-making and participation in matters which affect their lives or the

49. Girls are often forced to drop out of school because of pregnancy,
violence or for economic reasons.  These problems sometimes lead parents to
keep them from continuing in school or to disrupt their education. 

50. Laws are often contradictory and derived from different sources in
society.  Commonly the "law" that is least favourable to the girl is applied. 
Even in countries with legal systems which provide for de jure equality, de
facto discrimination of adolescent girls prevails.

51. The family, including the male family members, has a crucial role to
play.  Gender roles are predisposed from birth and perpetuated in the family. 
The male-female relationships in the family need to be redressed to serve as
role models for girls and boys.  However, one of the difficulties which needs
to be overcome is reaching families to help them appreciate the value to them
and to society of investing in the complete education and training of girls
as well as boys.  


52. The Expert Group Meeting, having considered the three themes under
discussion, recognized the inter-relatedness of the themes as well as the need
to promote the rights of the girl-child in a holistic manner.  Accordingly a
list of General conclusions and recommendations which are cross-cutting and
applicable for all three themes was adopted.

A.         General conclusions and recommendations

53. The rights of adolescent girls to the realization of their human
potential in all spheres of life need to be put in the forefront of action at
all levels of society.  This requires an approach in which the needs and views
of adolescent girls are elicited and taken into account in the planning,
designing, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes designed for
their benefit.  Girls should be equipped with advocacy and leadership skills
to prepare for active participation in all aspects of civic life.  The
approach should be multisectoral and holistic and based on needs and
opportunities throughout the life cycle.  

54. There is an urgent need to implement and internalize the existing
international human rights standards including the CRC and the CEDAW with
regard to adolescent girls.  This calls for a translation of these Conventions
into local languages and wide dissemination at all levels of society,
including to adolescent girls, families, communities, governmental and non-
governmental organizations. The key to achieving wide acceptance of these
standards is the understanding that realizing the full enjoyment of human
rights by adolescent girls will be of benefit not only to themselves, but to
the whole of society.

55. In order to achieve these goals Governments should review, repeal and
harmonize laws, including customary laws and policies to bring them into line
with international agreements.  Governments should implement the provisions
in the related international instruments, including the CRC and the CEDAW,
supported by the international commitments as attained in the Cairo Programme
of Action and the Beijing Platform for Action.

56. The rights of adolescent girls should be seen as an integral part of
human rights. In that regard the human rights treaty monitoring bodies in
particular the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women should, when considering the
reports submitted by States parties, give particular focus to the
consideration of the full enjoyment by adolescent girls of their rights. Such
consideration should be seen as a matter of priority.  

57. Action is needed to improve the status of  adolescent girls at all levels
of society including the family, community, governmental and non-governmental
institutions including professional and scientific associations.  A
participatory approach in which people from all sectors of society are
actively involved to meet the common goal is essential.  This will include the
sectors of justice, education, health, employment, social welfare, economic
planning, religious affairs, youth and culture.  Regional and international
institutions should collaborate closely and respond to the needs of all actors
at national level.  

58. Governments and donors should review allocation and management of
resources across sectors in terms of alleviation of poverty, taking into
account adverse consequences of poverty for the development of adolescent

59. The situation of adolescent girls needs to be given greater visibility. 
This requires the disaggregation of existing information by sex, age and other
relevant variables and the acquisition and dissemination of new information
including: (a) qualitative and quantitative information about the status of
adolescent girls; (b) the factors which affect the fulfilment of their rights
in society; and (c) what will work best to achieve positive changes for more
effective policies and programmes. Governments and international organizations
should facilitate information sharing and networking among young people,
Governments, international organizations and NGOs in support of adolescent

60. For purposes of policy formulation and programme development, a
comprehensive strategy of prevention, protection, participation, recovery and
rehabilitation should be developed to serve as the basis for specific
programmes and actions for adolescent girls.

61. Effective mobilization of the whole community and child-focused community
structures at national and local levels should be given the highest priority
to assume responsibility for situation analysis, advocacy, monitoring,
protection, recovery, rehabilitation and the participation of adolescent
girls.  Community-based action should also be given high priority as a means
of promoting and strengthening collaboration between Governments and NGOs as
well as all other sectors of society toward sustainable action.

62. In this respect, women's groups, youth servicing organizations and
religious groups should be assisted to develop their commitment and capability
to assume leadership and responsibility.

63. Government agencies and civil society should make every effort to
generate and develop a collective understanding of gender issues and their
impact on social values, community attitudes and the behaviour of adolescent
girls at the national and community levels. 

B.                 Area-specific conclusions and recommendations

1.         Adolescent girls in need of special protection

64. The Expert Group Meeting noted the existence of predisposing factors
which contribute to the growing numbers of girls in especially difficult
circumstances.  These include: war, civil strife, and ethnic conflict;
vulnerability of adolescent girls to violence and abuse because of lack of
protection mechanisms and the failure of legal systems to hold perpetrators
accountable for these crimes; changing value systems in transitional
economies; overseas migration of parents for work; the general increase in
dysfunctional family structures, and substance abuse. 

a.         Overall approaches and strategies

65. The experts considered existing approaches for the implementation of
paragraphs 278, 280, 281, 283 and 284 of the Platform for Action. It was
recommended that Governments, civil society, NGOs and international agencies
formulate programmes and policies for adolescent girls in need of special
protection, emphasizing:

       Prevention: Readily available parenthood education programmes; special
programmes for families at highest risk which include poverty alleviation
interventions, financial and social support for credit, and skills training;
and provision of basic services of health, nutrition and education; 

       Protection: Community-based actions which monitor violations of human
rights of adolescent girls within families and social institutions;
       Participation of adolescent girls "in their best interests" in the
planning and management of community based programmes;

       Recovery and rehabilitation, in line with the both Conventions to
address the mental, physical and psycho-social needs of the affected
adolescent girls.

66. In the implementation of programmes for prevention, protection,
participation and recovery and rehabilitation of adolescent girls in need of
special protection by Governments,  NGOs, and civil society, the following
overall strategies are recommended to:

    Community-based actions

       Organize community-based prevention, monitoring and protection of
children, with particular focus on adolescent girls in situations of abuse and
exploitation, at the provincial, municipal, city, village, urban ward/slum
levels by setting up local committees for the protection of children.  Such
committees will be responsible for monitoring, from a gender perspective of
the CRC and the CEDAW, with special focus on the protection of adolescent

       Mobilize local groups and train them to actively advocate, monitor,
and protect and refer cases of abuse, and exploitation of girls, employment of
girls, and other violations;
       Organize girl-child focussed networks or multi-sectoral coalitions of
NGOs and Government in each country where none exists, city-wide,
province-wide and in grassroots communities;

       Train volunteer advocates/facilitators, counsellors and other
personnel in the above networks to assume responsibility for the advocacy,
prevention, protection, monitoring and recovery of adolescent girls, who are
at risk and in need of special protection;

       Emphasize the child-to-child approach in which the girl-child herself
can be trained to effectively communicate, educate and empower other girls for
protecting themselves and working  toward the  achievement of their life

       Ensure that the process for preventing exploitation as well as for
recovering and healing will be empowering adolescent girls.  Education and
life-skills training must focus on self-reliance,  protection, decision-making
and making the best choices for their own future.

    Guidelines for law enforcement agencies

       Governments should ensure that there are specific guidelines on the
rescue, apprehension and detention of girls in prostitution, those living on
the street, disabled girls and those unaccompanied by adults. Measures should
be outlined for immediate referral to social welfare reception centres, and to
avoid detention in police stations where girls are, in many cases, victimized
and sexually abused by police officers themselves.

    Training and information materials
       In each country, NGOs and Government should develop and consolidate
teaching/learning modules and materials which can be easily adapted to local
groups  and situations. Such materials should address all aspects of
education and empowerment of girls, and be available to family and
community members, outreach workers of service delivery systems,
judiciary, police and others.

b.         Actions for addressing adolescent girls affected by 
           armed conflict, including refugee girls

67. The experts recommended that Governments, international relief agencies,
NGOs and civil society condemn the perpetrators of violations of the rights
of girls and women. They should not be bystanders nor collude with violence. 
The international aid community has a tendency of not putting blame for
excessive violence where it belongs, i.e. those who perpetrate the crimes and 
those who support them. The perpetrators must be identified and held
accountable for their crimes.

68. The following actions are recommended to UNHCR, other international
agencies, Governments and NGOs:

       Mobilize and organize community groups among the refugee and
internally displaced populations for monitoring violations and setting up
crisis intervention centres for information, counselling, liaison and
paralegal support to adolescent girls;

       Work with the refugee population/internally displaced population to
identify special needs of adolescent girls and devise means to address them;

       Organize gender sensitization of peace-keepers, camp leaders and

       Review regulations for family tracing as the International Committee
of the Red Cross's present procedure gives priority to children under 15 years
old and thus leaves out adolescent girls, thereby increasing their

       Implement the recommendations of Grac'a Machel's study on "Impact of
armed conflict on children" 2/, with special emphasis on adolescent girls;

       Establish as soon as possible education facilities in the camps.

c.         Actions for adolescent girls with disabilities

69. The Expert Group Meeting observed that not enough attention was being
given to the needs of adolescent girls with disabilities such as their rights
to survival, development and participation. They should no longer be hidden
or forgotten in institutions.

70. Governments, professional associations and NGOs should:

       Ensure that adolescent girls are eligible and have access to services
and entitlements of national policies for disabled persons; 

       Motivate support groups working for the disabled to give attention to
this age-group, and to take special measures to address the sexuality of
disabled girls, and to ensure their protection from abuse and sexual
exploitation by their care-givers, family members and others in society; 

       Ensure the early and correct diagnosis of disabilities; 

       Give priority to education and skills training as recommended in
Beijing Platform for Action;

       Motivate private sector to train and employ adolescent disabled girls;

       Ensure protection of adolescent disabled girls from discriminatory
forced sterilization as where practised;

       Promote community-based rehabilitation (CBR) and integration of
disabled adolescent girls into the mainstream activities and organize
child-to-child programmes, particularly mentoring;    

       Ensure the availability and provision of prostheses, other devices and
support equipment to adolescent girls with disabilities and to develop
accessibility guidelines for building and transportation systems;

       Ensure availability and accessibility to community services,
especially education facilities.

d.         Actions for adolescent working girls

71. Programmes for working girls, including domestic helpers, street hawkers,
street children, factory workers, entertainment industry, bonded girls for
agricultural and domestic work should be formulated on the basis of the
International Labour Organization (ILO) Standards, Article 32 of the CRC and
existing national laws on child labour.  In the case of migrant working girls,

should be able to enjoy their rights to nationality, services and privileges
of the host country, in line with existing international conventions.  In
order to achieve these goals:

      Governments should prohibit adolescent girls from working in hazardous
and exploitative conditions in line with the above international standards and
impose sanctions on employers/agencies who serve as recruitment centres for
bonded labour, slavery and sale of adolescent girls;

      Governments, NGOs and other actors of civil society, including
employers, should take measures not only to ensure fulfilment of the girls'
rights to education, health, food, shelter, play and recreation but also to
protect her sexuality and vulnerability to abuse in the work setting;

      Women's organizations and community-based groups should monitor
violations of rights and ILO standards and exploitation of adolescent girls by
employers, families and community institutions and bring it to the attention
of relevant authorities;

      Governments, NGOs and international agencies should ensure that
adolescent working girls are protected by the proposed ILO Convention of 1999
on the "Elimination of the most intolerable forms of child labour";

       Governments should include interventions for the adolescent working
girls in their national plans of action in line with the ILO-International
Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) programmes, in
focussing on  children working in hazardous and exploitative conditions.

e.         Actions for adolescent girls in circumstances of sexual 
exploitation, abuse and trafficking 

72. The meeting noted that adolescent girls are in some cases sexually
exploited in the home through incest, in prostitution by pimps and abductors
of girls, and in some circumstances by law enforcement officers and teachers
as well as others in responsible positions. 

73. The experts recommended the following actions, which are particularly
relevant to adolescent girls:

    To Governments

       Formulate gender sensitive policies as an integral component of the
justice system with emphasis on the prosecution of the perpetrators as well as
on the recovery of  adolescent girls as victims;

       Monitor and, if necessary, impose immediate sanctions on groups and
agencies in the sex industry who operate in hotels, bars and discotheques, in
particular, those 

       who employ under-age and adolescent girls (without certified birth
certificates) for sexual and other purposes;

       Establish crisis intervention centres and recovery centres in
collaboration with NGOs, religious groups and other community groups to
provide immediate responses to the psycho-social needs of adolescent girls who
have been abused;

       Monitor the trafficking of girls across borders through national and
international networking with Governments, NGOs, women's organizations and
other relevant entities;

       Review and/or enact legal intercountry adoption laws and policies with
the view to preventing trafficking of girls under the guise of adoption;

       Establish a monitoring and reporting system for early identification,
rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation of girl victims of sexual abuse within
families and in prostitution;

       Completely ban child pornography and prosecute persons engaged in
production, sale and distribution of child pornographic materials.  In
addition, take measures to protect children, from adult pornography; 

       Ensure the implementation of the Declaration of the Stockholm Congress
on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

    To NGOs, community groups and other actors of civil society

       Provide training on paralegal procedures and advocacy methods for
women's organizations and youth groups, and on capacity-development of these
groups for monitoring of abuse of girls and protection of the victims;
       Form coalitions with women lawyers' associations and legal groups
across borders;

       Initiate and conduct orientation for adolescent girls in order to
sensitize them to their vulnerability to sexual abuse and child pornography.

f.        Actions for adolescent girls affected by HIV/AIDS and without

74. The Expert Group Meeting noted that adolescent girls affected by HIV/AIDS
are the most vulnerable to further abandonment, neglect, exploitation and
negative community attitudes. The non-availability and inadequate access of
adolescents to information on sexuality and reproductive health education from
an early age is one of the reasons for incidence of HIV/STDs among younger and
adolescent populations.  Therefore the Meeting recommended that: 

       Governments, international agencies and NGOs should give priority to
ensuring the survival and well-being of such adolescent girls, who may be
care-givers themselves, provide them with social services, counselling, and
mobilize public support for their care; 

       Governments and NGOs should advocate and take measures towards
securing the rights to property, land and inheritance of this group of
adolescent girls.

g.         Actions for appropriate juvenile justice systems for 
adolescent girls in conflict with law 

75. The Experts Group Meeting observed that adolescent girls are often the
victims of the violations of law and not the offenders.  Therefore, the
Meeting recommended that:

       Governments should set up juvenile justice systems, in line with the
CRC, with concern for "the best interests of the child". Laws should be
formulated for protection and immediate rescue of affected adolescent girls.
Measures for apprehension and conviction of the perpetrators of the violations
should be developed with the help of lawyers groups, including women's and
professional associations;

       Governments should strengthen institutional arrangements for
monitoring infringement of rights, ensure effective law enforcement against
sex trafficking, child abuse and exploitation in line with existing
international conventions and bilateral agreements in regard to cross-border
trafficking and migration. Such cooperation is especially encouraged between
State parties who have ratified the CRC and the  CEDAW.  Such agreements
should specifically include cooperation in the detection, prosecution and
trial of offenders who engage in illegal practices. Governments  should permit
courts to assume extra-territorial jurisdiction and should address the issues
of corruption of law enforcement authorities;

       Governments should support the optional protocol to the CEDAW which
will provide a complaint procedure at the international level, and the
optional protocols to the CRC on (i) the sale of children, child prostitution
and child pornography, as well as basic measures needed for their eradication,
and (ii) involvement of children in armed conflicts.  Governments should also
develop rapid response system to address large scale violations of the rights
of adolescent girls (e.g. rape, violence, bonded labour, custodial rape).

2.         Health of adolescent girls including reproductive 
and sexual health and nutrition

76. The International Conference on Population and Development Programme of
Action and the Beijing Platform for Action generally called for reproductive
health information, counselling and services for youth and an end to
discrimination against the girl-child.  Since then some progress has been made
in recognizing adolescents' health needs.  However, this progress has not yet
had sufficient impact on the health, including reproductive and sexual health
and nutrition of adolescent girls, and so much more needs to be done in this

77. The Expert Group Meeting discussed various health needs of adolescent
girls in the areas of information and education, skills for life, counselling,
quality and accessible health services, and a safe, supportive environment. 
Attention was given to the inter-relatedness of adolescent girls' issues and
relevant interventions, the importance of addressing their concerns
holistically, the need for coordinated interventions at the international,
national and community levels.  It was also emphasized that adolescent girls'
health needs should be incorporated and institutionalized into the programmes
of relevant governmental institutions, NGOs, professional bodies, and private
service providers. 

78. The Expert Group Meeting recommends action in the following seven areas,
as critical considerations wherein the Beijing Platform of Action could be
further successfully implemented. They include: strengthening the knowledge
base of adolescent girls' health issue; providing a safe and supportive
environment; fostering supportive policy and legislation; providing
information, education and skills to adolescent girls; providing counselling
and services; monitoring and evaluating policies and programmes with respect
to the needs of adolescent girls; and increasing resources to better meet
their needs. 

a.       Strengthening the knowledge base

79. To be effective, policies and programmes must be solidly grounded in
reality, and more extensive and better quality information for this purpose
is urgently needed.  The knowledge base needs to be expanded with regard to: 
the current status of the needs and problems of adolescent girls; the causal
factors which contribute to these problems; and the most effective ways of
addressing them, promoting health and providing care for those in need.   A
better understanding of these subjects will serve technically supported
advocacy for policy, resource allocation and programming, increase the
effectiveness of action, and, by providing stronger indicators and baseline
measures,  will help monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of action.   

80. Governments should collect data that are disaggregated by sex and by age
at the national level, taking advantage of different sources of data,
including demographic and health surveys, STD/AIDS and other surveillance
systems and clinical records.

81. Governments, NGOs and research and statistical institutions should:

       Establish and maintain an information database on the status of
adolescent girls' health and development, using both qualitative and
quantitative methodologies and taking full advantage of modern technology;

       Collect data on social and human rights related factors which make
adolescent girls vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation, early
marriage and childbearing,  unwanted and too-early pregnancy, unsafe abortion,
STDs, HIV/AIDS, as well as conduct studies on the costs to individuals, family
and society of these problems; 

       Develop policies and programmes based on up-to-date reality by
eliciting the views and experiences of young people and adults including
parents through periodic surveys and analysis from a gender perspective;

       Summarize, publish and widely disseminate research findings in a
user-friendly ways. 

b.       Providing a safe and supportive environment

82. The behaviours of young people are not only crucial to their present
health but also have a powerful impact on their future health and longevity
as well as those of their future families.  Many of their health problems
create not only immediate obstacles but also long-term problems at great cost
to public health.  But because adolescent girls are relatively powerless, much
of what they do is determined by the environment in which they live.  A lack
of safety not only inhibits activities crucial to their development, but often
results in permanent physical and psychological damage. If adolescent girls
are not given the basic support they need, their development will be slowed
and their basic human rights violated. 

83. Government institutions, NGOs, communities and families should:

       Provide supportive and safe environment in the homes, schools, work
places and communities by developing guidelines, legal instruments, and
supportive social service programmes;

       Protect adolescents from harm, including sex-based violence, and help
those who have been harmed to fully recover; 

       Provide adolescent girls with opportunities to participate in sports
and other recreational activities so as to enhance their physical and
psychological well-being and self-esteem.

84. Governments and civil society should support families to assess and
clarify the impact of their values on the health and well-being of the
adolescent girls' health including sexual and reproductive health in light of
changing conditions in society.

85. Governments and NGOs should work with the community to eliminate cultural
and traditional practices that are harmful to adolescent girls' health,
including discrimination of food allocation, early marriage and FGM.

c.      Policy and legislation supportive of health needs 

86. It is essential that comprehensive policies for adolescent girls be
created and implemented in each country, reinforcing international standards
and agreements.  Such policies should be elaborated and supported from within
each society.  While policies and legislation alone may not be sufficient
enough to protect the rights of adolescent girls, they can provide a powerful
basis for action across all sectors in society and at all levels, and help to
overcome obstacles particularly in the sensitive areas of adolescent
reproductive and sexual health.  At present many laws are inconsistent with
international standards, contradictory across sectors, gender insensitive and
discriminatory of adolescent girls. 

87. In order to reduce resistance to addressing adolescent sexual and
reproductive health needs, a number of advocacy actions are needed.

88. Professional associations and others in civil society should make the
case to Governments that investment in adolescent girls will have social and
economic benefits to the whole society.

89.  Governments and NGOs should provide training for those individuals who
provide services to young people in all sectors, in order to strengthen their
skills of interaction.  They should sensitize those who strongly influence the
health and well-being of adolescents including policy makers and community
leaders to help them understand and be committed to the rights of adolescent
girls to health and full human development.

90.  Concerned organizations should establish coalitions of organizations,
agencies and key individuals, and provide them with advocacy skills by
developing strategies and articulating modalities for working with the media,
policy-makers, youth, and the general public to advocate for common
understanding for adolescent girls' health, including reproductive and sexual
health, positive policies, effective programmes and increased resources.

91. Governments, professional training institutions including medical and
nursing schools and teachers and social workers training institutions should
incorporate adolescent girls' health considerations into their relevant work
programmes.  They  should develop organizational policies and programmes for
adolescent health, reproductive health and nutrition.

92. International organizations should assist political leaders and popular
figures to serve as  advocates for policies and programmes that favour gender
equality with special attention to health-related rights of adolescent girls
including rights to reproductive and sexual health, and nutrition. 

d.     The provision of information, education and skills to adolescent girls

93. Basic needs and human rights of adolescent girls include the acquisition
of knowledge, information and skills to help them fully develop their human
potential and make use of existing resources and opportunities in society. 
Unfortunately, adolescent girls are frequently denied this right which enable
them to develop competence in all walks of life and the self-esteem which
arises from it.  In areas such as sexual and reproductive health some barriers
often prevent the provision of information in sound and relevant ways because
of the unfounded fear that knowledge creates irresponsibility when in fact
past experiences suggest the reverse is true. 

94. Government institutions, NGOs and international organizations should:

       Support provision of comprehensive and accurate information and
education about adolescent girls' health to girls through multiple sources,
including homes, schools, out-reach programmes, youth centres, religious
institutions, health services, media and social marketing programmes;

       Assist in- and out-of-school programmes that provide training to
adolescent girls of skills for life in such areas as interpersonal
communication, decision-making, critical thinking, resistance to negative peer
pressure, leadership and advocacy.
    Government agencies and NGOs should:

       Ensure that information provision to adolescent girls is linked to
resources and services such as counselling, health services and recreational
and vocational training programmes;

       Revise curricula for in- and out-of-school youth to reflect current
knowledge about adolescent girls' health to ensure that it reinforces gender
equality, human rights, and information which will serve to promote the
reproductive and sexual health of adolescent girls, good nutrition, and the
prevention of health problems.  

95. Governments should encourage the incorporation of adolescent girls'
health issues into pre- and in-service training for teachers and those in
related sectors.  Training should be gender-sensitive, and designed to
strengthen both skills and knowledge, and utilize interactive methodologies.

e.       The provision of health services and counselling

96. An absolutely essential need is high quality, accessible and youth-
friendly services that meet the health needs of young people, especially in
the areas of reproductive and sexual health, where they are often least well
served.  Often policies, legislation and practices do not permit adolescent
girls' access to these services, and have restrictions of consent of others.

97. Governments, NGOs, private service providers and professional
organizations should:

       Expand services, including counselling, to adolescents by building on
existing services which should ensure privacy and confidentiality, low costs,
and accessible hours and sites that will optimize their use by adolescents. 
Services should also be available in low-cost non-clinical settings, such as
youth centres, schools or peer educator/outreach programmes, workplaces, and
the "street"; 

       Provide adequate quality care for adolescent girls with special needs,
for example, pregnant girls and young mothers, those suffering from
complications of unsafe abortion, and victims of violence;

       Plan for long-term reorientation and expansion of reproductive health
services through the traditional family planning and health services, STD/HIV
programmes, and private health services, and link them to other resources for
adolescent girls, such as legal assistance, rape crisis centres, and
educational institutions.

       Provide pre- and in-service training to health providers in relation
to adolescent girls' health needs, including recognition of evidence of
violence against girls, complications associated with FGM, pregnancy,
childbirth, the management of complications arising from unsafe abortion,
HIV/AIDS, the prevention of pregnancy and STD related problems including
family planning and counselling where relevant; 

       Develop service provision guidelines and protocols for adolescents in
conjunction with concerned parties.

f.       Monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes

98. Learning about the effectiveness of what have been done is essential not
only to improve practices, but also to help use resources in the most cost-
effective way.  Because young people are best equipped to know what they feel,
what they think, and what they do, it is essential that they play a role in
the monitoring and evaluation of action that is designed for their benefit.
Monitoring and evaluation is needed to fully understand the process of what
is being provided, the immediate outcome, and to the extent possible, the
impact of action on the health and well- being of adolescent girls, even
though impact is particularly difficult to measure.  

99.  Governments should develop appropriate qualitative and quantitative
indicators for adolescent health, and encourage their use when programming
activities for adolescents.

100.   Governments, NGOs and international agencies should assist those who
implement programmes to better monitor and evaluate the programmes in an
effort to improve their effectiveness, and to document and disseminate lessons

101.   In addition to the need to monitor and evaluate policies and
programmes by those who implement them, monitoring at the international level
is also needed of the degree to which international standards and agreements
are being met.  In line with this, a Roundtable of Human Rights Treaty Bodies
on "Human Rights Approaches to Women's Health, with a focus on Reproductive
and Sexual Health and Rights" 3/, was jointly organized by DAW/UNFPA/UNHCHR in
Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, December 1996, with a view to bringing the
issue of women's reproductive and sexual health rights into the mainstream of
the human rights agenda.

102.   The Expert Group Meeting recommends that members of the United
Nations' human rights treaty monitoring bodies focus their attention on
adolescent girls' rights, including their rights to reproductive and sexual

103.   The relevant entities of the United Nations system should: 

       Provide technical assistance to treaty monitoring bodies in
understanding and developing standards, processes and procedures for
monitoring adolescent girls' issues, in particular, reproductive and sexual

       Coordinate efforts to help build the capacity of countries, including
providing technical assistance to monitor human rights of adolescents girls,
in particular their rights to reproductive and sexual health;

       Establish an inter-agency committee to monitor the progress of
adolescent girls' health and rights, including their rights to reproductive
and sexual health.

104.   NGOs should help identify the human rights dimensions of adolescent
girls' health issues, with a focus on reproductive and sexual health, and
bring these to the attention of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies,
including cases of violations of internationally agreed standards. 

g.      Increasing resources for the health of adolescent girls

105.   Investing in the health of the adolescents will pay enormous
dividends for the whole society, not only by reducing problems, but by
enabling their full potential to be developed for the benefit of all.  But
because little attention has been paid to adolescent health needs,
insufficient resources have been allocated.  Adolescent girls' programmes
require adequate human and financial resources.  There has been a welcoming
indication among a number of international agencies that they see the health
of adolescents, and especially the reproductive and sexual health needs of
girls, as an important priority.  The increasing formulation and
implementation of national adolescent health policies also attest to this
fact.  A cooperative, coordinated approach among governmental,
non-governmental and international agencies will help greatly toward the
optimal management of existing resources and encourage donors to provide
further resources. 
106.   Governments should promote and provide resources for health
provisions, education, skills development and entrepreneurship training for
adolescent girls, including those who are single mothers.

107.   International organizations should review economic policies, fiscal
agreements and cooperative assistance regarding the impacts on health,
including reproductive health, nutrition and development of adolescent girls,
and initiate action to alleviate such impacts.

108.   While a number of international organizations have increased their
support for adolescent girls' health, particularly in the areas of
reproductive and sexual health, much more still needs to be done. 
Accordingly, the Expert Group Meeting calls upon the donor community to
increase their support for adolescent girls' health, including their
reproductive and sexual health needs.

3.      Creating an enabling environment for the realization 
        of human rights and empowerment of adolescent girls
109.   The Expert Group Meeting agreed that the term "adolescent girls" will
be applied to girls at the upper age limit of 18 years recognized by the CRC
and a lower age limit approximate to the age of menarche, or alternatively to
consider adolescence as the second decade of life. 

110.   It further decided that the central issues of education; family,
culture and social-economic environment; law and legal reform; and the role
of the media were critical for creating an enabling environment for realizing
the human rights of adolescent girls and the empowerment of adolescent girls
to realize their rights.

a.       Education 

111.     Education is an important means of empowering adolescent girls to
realize their rights.  Apart from the acquisition of knowledge and values
conducive to social progress, education encourages mental development
providing such benefits as the training in logical and analytical thinking,
and the capacity for responsible decision-making.  Education also improves
organizational, administrative and management skills.  It creates an enhanced
self-esteem, and provides an environment for improved status within the
community and full respect for human rights.

(i) Recognizing the importance of equality and gender sensitive education at
    all levels for adolescent girls, and drawing from experiences at national
    and international levels, the Meeting recommended that Governments, with
    the assistance of NGOs and other actors in civil society should: 

         Provide access to affordable quality education at primary, secondary
and tertiary levels and equal career development opportunities for adolescent

         Remove the formal barriers and obstacles at all levels for admission
of adolescent girls into professional and educational institutions on an equal
basis with adolescent boys;

         Work towards eliminating social, cultural, traditional and other
barriers that prevent adolescent girls from having equal access as boys to
education, training, and career development.

(ii)     In order to ensure equality and gender sensitive education to all
         adolescent girls including those in particularly difficult
         circumstances, Governments, jointly with NGOs and other actors in
         civil society, should:

         Provide and develop infrastructure facilities to ensure safe access
to education and educational opportunities for out-of-school adolescent girls
while ensuring an opportunity for them to re-enter regular school system;

         Provide remedial teaching specifically to deal with illiteracy among
adolescent girls;

         Ensure the continued education of pregnant adolescent girls and
young mothers as it is their inalienable right;
         Provide counseling services for adolescent girls both in- and

(iii)    In order to create in adolescent girls a sense of their own
         potential to develop and contribute as responsible citizens to
         society, Governments, educational institutions and professional
         associations, jointly with NGOs, should:

        Introduce educational reform to revise curricula and teaching
methodologies to reflect a gender-sensitive perspective and scrutinize
teaching aides for this purpose;

         Provide resource persons who promote positive gender perspectives
and enhance the self-esteem and sense of identity of adolescent girls;  

         Include in curricula information on women's contributions throughout
the history, their roles in history, development and culture;

         Involve adolescent girls and boys in a participatory process to make
changes in curricula and teaching methodologies by providing, for instance,
opportunities for them to express their views on teaching programmes and
ensuring that these view points are considered when formulating curricula and
teaching methodologies.

(iv)     In order to prepare adolescent girls to meet the challenges of the
         future, Governments, legislative assemblies and civil society
         should work towards elaborating gender sensitive and comprehensive
         educational policies which:

        Enhance the status of female teachers in the school system to provide
positive role models for adolescent girls and reinforce standards of gender

         Institutionalize training and education programmes for health care
workers, legal, medical and other professionals, law enforcement officials and
the judiciary to sensitize them to the special needs and concerns of
adolescent girls;

         Develop programmes to disseminate information and to educate all
sections of society on the meaning and application of international standards
of equality and human rights, including the CRC and the CEDAW, with special
programmes for both adolescent girls and boys.

b.         Social environment

112.     Family is the basic unit of society.  All of its members should be
educated to respect the rights of adolescent girls according to the positive
cultural and spiritual principles inherent within a society.  Children, both
boys and girls, need to be trained to respect themselves, each other and
adults in society.

(i) In order to assist families and communities in fulfilling these roles,
    Governments should, in line with their international commitments:

         Provide a support system such as: parental leave; child care
facilities; alternative technology; and income generating activities for
mothers/guardians which will allow them to take care of the household
responsibilities without burdening the adolescent girls, thus allowing them to
pursue their education, leisure and social interaction;

         Develop special social policies to address the needs of adolescents
in low- income families.

(ii)     Governments and civil society should link together to provide
         training programmes for parents, extended family members and care-
         givers on areas such as: 

         Social conditioning of boys and girls to reflect the values of
gender equality;

         Development of a sense of the value of girls as human beings and the
importance of recognizing their human rights;

         Sharing of best practices from other countries and communities to
illustrate that investments in the human development of adolescent girls are
of critical importance to the well-being and progress of the family, community
and the nation;

        Reproductive health/sex education as it affects adolescents, and
development of strategies for communicating this information to the

(iii)    Governments and civil society organizations should support media-
         based information, education and communication programmes to reach
         adolescent girls, their families and communities such as UNICEF's "
         Meena" and "Sara" initiatives 4/.  Such programmes should
         emphasize the rights of girls and serve as entry points for the
         development of leadership skills and self-esteem.

(iv)     The Meeting identified some issues that have recently been
         recognized as critically important for the well-being of adolescent
         girls and therefore should be addressed in Governmental policies
         as well as programmes and activities undertaken by civil society. 
         These include:

         The vulnerability of girls to violence, sexual abuse and harassment
within the environment of family, school, workplace and community.  The high
incidence of acts of violence by boys against girls through abduction, rape,
physical abuse and sexual harassment should be addressed by socializing boys
to refrain from violence and to exercise responsibility in sexual relations;

         Harmful traditional practices, (e.g. forced and early marriage, FGM,
nutritional taboos and body disfigurement) that cause permanent impairment to
the physical, mental and psychological well-being of adolescent girls;

         Re-examining cultural traditions and practices so as to discover
positive traditions that reinforce the international human rights standards
regarding girls.  These positive traditions can also be conducive to
internalizing these international standards in the family and community.

113.     Pressure for affirmative action and all the positive measures that
entail should be maintained by women's groups on the basis that gender
equality cannot be realized without addressing critical concerns of girls in
general and of adolescent girls, in particular, who are at a vital stage of
their lives.

c.         Law and legal reform

114.     The Meeting reiterated that law and legal regulations are an
important strategy in realizing the human rights of adolescent girls. 
However, they must not be considered the only strategy and must be reinforced
by supportive social and economic policies and allocation of resources for
implementation, monitoring and enforcement.

115.     The Meeting also recognized that the human rights of adolescent
girls and creating an enabling environment are delicately balanced between
promoting self-esteem, a sense of identity, reproductive rights, the access
to health, education and development, protection from violence and freedom to
make decisions on matters that concern them.  

(I) Recognizing critical importance of the CRC and the CEDAW in achieving the
    equality and enjoyment of human rights by adolescent girls, the Meeting
    agreed that State parties which have not ratified the Conventions should
    do so.  The Meeting also agreed that the State parties to these
    Conventions should: 

         Withdraw reservations that are in conflict with standards set by the
CRC and the CEDAW;

         Reform and update their national laws in conformity with the
standards that they have accepted by ratifying the CRC and the CEDAW;

         Allocate resources and take measures to provide the support system
required for the effective implementation and enforcement of these laws;

         Be consistent with their international commitments and take steps to
prohibit by law cultural and traditional practices that deny adolescent girls
their rights to survival, development and protection from violence;

        Give publicity to international laws and introduce them in adult
    education and school programmes;

        Disseminate information on and enforce new laws;

        In countries where international treaties take precedence over
domestic laws, publicize these treaties in compilations of their laws;

        In countries where state laws are consistent with international
standards but are in conflict with customary laws, uphold the state laws
relating to adolescent girls;
        Adopt the following laws concerning adolescent girls: 

         -    Nationality laws which ensure that every girl and boy can
              acquire citizenship either through her/his mother or father
              in accordance with article 9 of the CEDAW and article 2 of
              the CRC;

         -    Laws to raise the minimum age required for marriage to 18

         -    Laws that recognize the adolescent girls' right to make
              decisions with regard to sexual and reproductive health;  

         -    Laws stating that sexual relations with girls under the age
              of 16 years will constitute statutory rape;

         -    Laws providing for the exercise of judicial discretion
              regarding sentencing when the sexual act is consensual and
              the male involved is under the age of 18 years;

         -    Laws requiring compulsory registration of births, deaths and
              marriages in order to enforce laws that set a minimum age for
              work, marriage and consensual sexual relations of adolescent

         -    Special laws to safeguard the rights of adolescent girls in
              special risks categories such as disabled, migrant,
              displaced, refugee girls and girls in the situation of armed

(ii)     NGOs and other actors of civil society should become aware of
         international monitoring mechanisms in order to monitor
         Governments' performance and accountability in implementing the CRC
         and the CEDAW.

(iii)    The Meeting agreed that gender equality cannot be realized without
         addressing critical concerns of adolescent girls at a vital stage
         of their lives and without creating gender-sensitive environment
         conducive to realization of their rights.  Therefore, policy makers
         and non-governmental actors should:

        Institute and enforce, whenever necessary, affirmative action and
other positive measures;

         Institute awareness-raising and gender sensitivity training for
lawyers, judges, police and other law enforcement officials;

         Develop institutional mechanisms that will enable the consideration
of views expressed by adolescent girls and women when formulating laws and
national development policies and projects; 

         Use such institutional mechanisms to provide for a gender impact
assessment of policies and projects.

d.       Role of media and communication strategies

116.     The Expert Group Meeting agreed that the media and information
technology such as the Internet and television in particular play a prominent
role in shaping ideas about what constitute socially acceptable behaviour. 
Given the power of modern mass media to influence social values, the Meeting
expressed great concerns about the violence, aggression, materialism, sexual
exploitation and stereotyped portrayal of women reflected in the media and
their negative impacts on promoting gender bias in a society.

117.     At the same time, the potential of the media to act in a positive
manner to help change the prevailing negative images of women and promote the
advancement of adolescent girls has largely been untapped and unutilized. 
Therefore, Governments, private sector, civil society including media
organizations should consider:

         Broadcasting regulations and guidelines which include not only what
may not be presented but also affirmative provisions of what can be included;

         Prohibition of programmes that promote violence (especially family
violence) and child pornography and which could be detrimental to the mental
and physical health of girls;

         The use of traditional media such as theatre and folk poetry for
communicating positive gender-sensitive messages which will help enhance
self-esteem of adolescent girls and raise awareness of their rights as
expressed in the CRC and the CEDAW.


1/  In November 1995, WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF jointly convened a Study Group on
Programming for Adolescent Health.  The experts reviewed the latest knowledge,
and made recommendations on priority actions to accelerate and strengthen
programming for adolescent health, including the global and regional support
needed for country-level programming.  The recommendations are contained in a
popular version of a joint WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF document entitled "Action for
Adolescent Health: Towards a Common Agenda".  A
Technical Report is forthcoming.  

2/  Ms. Grac'a Machel, the expert appointed by the Secretary-General,
undertook this study with support from the United Nations Centre for Human
Rights and the UNICEF, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 48/157
of 20 December 1993, and submitted a report to the General Assembly in 1996

3/  Briefing Note and Final Recommendations of this meeting are available from
Gender, Population and Development Branch of UNFPA (New York) which is also
preparing a full report.

4/   The Meena Communication Initiative in South Asia and the Sara
Communication Initiative in the Eastern and Southern African Region are
founded on the need to establish a positive and dynamic role model for young
girls and to provide a communication package in local languages which assists
in the development of their psycho-social skills: problem-solving and
decision-making, critical and creative thinking, communication and
other interpersonal skills, self-awareness and empathy, as well as coping with
stress and emotions.  Both initiatives deal with issues such as girls' equal
rights to education, health and nutrition, lessening of workload in the home
and elsewhere, avoiding early marriage and freedom from exploitation.  "Sara"
also tackles the issues of sexual abuse and exploitation, teenage pregnancy
and traditional practices, such as FGM.  Both initiatives use animated film,
comic book and radio format.  Television also plays a significant role in
broadcasting the stories of "Meena".     



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Date last updated: 06 December 1999 by DESA/DAW
Copyright 1999 United Nations