United Nations

EGM/AGR/1997/Rep.1


Division for the Advancement of Women

 Distr. GENERAL
6 November 1997


                                                        EGM/AGR/1997/Rep.1
                                                        6 November 1997


                                  Report of the 
                              Expert Group Meeting on

                        Adolescent Girls and Their Rights

                             Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
                              13 - 17 October 1997





                                    CONTENTS


                                                           Paragraphs

Preface

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

Annexes                                                    
                                                              Pages

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



                                 Preface

  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
Bureau:

    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
Perspectives".

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
Action.   


F.         Working groups

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

      (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.  

         
II.        SUMMARY OF DEBATE


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 Co