Aide-Me'moire EXPERT GROUP MEETING "Adolescent Girls and their Rights" (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13 - 17 October 1997) Introduction The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), jointly with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is preparing an Expert Group Meeting on Adolescent Girls and their Rights, which is scheduled to take place at the Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13-17 October 1997. The expert group meeting will provide a 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, 2-13 March 1998. It will also contribute to the Commission's debate on "the girl child" which should lead to the elaboration of agreed conclusions aimed at the accelerated implementation of the Platform in this area. The meeting will contribute toward a better understanding of the factors affecting the situation of the adolescent girls and their rights. It will allow consideration of these issues in a broad social, economic and human rights context, and will provide a forum for the assessment of progress in implementation of the relevant provisions of the Beijing Platform for Action, and elaboration of action-oriented measures to accelerate the implementation of the Platform. I. Background The girl child is one of the twelve critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action (Chapter IV.L). 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 are called upon to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls including in education, skills development and training and in health and nutrition, and to eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls, protect their rights and increase awareness of girls' needs and potential. The Platform points out that available indicators suggest that the girl- child is discriminated against from the earliest stages of life, through her childhood and into adulthood. But adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable, physically and psychologically. They are often treated as inferior and socialized to have low self-esteem. They may receive conflicting and confusing messages on their gender roles and may be denied the same opportunities as boys. Many at the onset of puberty, or even before, are considered adults and face early marriage, premature pregnancy, denial of educational opportunities and coercion into commercial sex work. The adolescent girl often falls between the cracks of her family's understanding, her community's support and her governmentūs programmes. II. Objectives On the basis of experience and best practices, and drawing upon available knowledge, the expert group meeting will examine the following aspects of the situation of adolescent girls and their rights in order to make action recommendations for accelerating the implementation of the Platform for Action in these areas: (I) Adolescent girls in extreme circumstances, including as identified by UNICEF, i.e. harmful and disabling child labour; warfare and other forms of organized and large-scale violence; sexual abuse and exploitation; childhood disabilities; temporary or permanent loss of family and/or primary caregivers and; deficient laws and abusive legal and judicial processes; (ii) Health, including reproductive and sexual health and nutrition; (iii) Enabling environment for empowering adolescent girls. III. Background documentation and profile of participants The basic documentation for the meeting will comprise background studies prepared by the organizers and papers prepared by experts. Observers may prepare papers from their own perspectives if they choose to do so. The organizers' studies will reflect on the current state of knowledge and practice and will address the issues of (i) adolescent girls in need of special protection due to extreme circumstances (UNICEF); (ii) health of adolescent girls including reproductive health and nutrition (UNFPA) and; (iii) enabling environment for empowering adolescent girls (DAW). The experts' papers will examine selected aspects of the situation of the girl child through case studies based on experts' knowledge and professional experiences. All papers should conclude with action-oriented recommendations for advocacy, institutional support and policy formulation, at the national, regional and international levels, addressed to governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, in order to create the environment conducive to the full enjoyment of human rights by adolescent girls and to facilitate and accelerate the implementation of the Platform for Action. Experts will be chosen, on the basis of their professional experience and knowledge in the above-mentioned three areas, from among governmental and non-governmental practitioners, academics and researchers and other experts. In selecting experts, criteria of geographical and gender balance will be respected. IV. Organization The meeting will be jointly organized by the DAW, ECA, UNICEF and UNFPA. It will be attended by invited consultants and experts, as well as observers from Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, research institutes and the United Nations system. V. Administrative Arrangements The meeting will be conducted in English. The costs of the participation of experts invited by the Secretariat will be covered by the United Nations (travel cost in economy class and daily subsistence allowance in accordance with the Untied Nations standards). Details of these arrangements will be provided later.
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Date last updated: 06 December 1999 by DESA/DAW
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