"Adolescent Girls and their Rights"
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,  13 - 17 October 1997)


      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

      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
      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

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.


This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

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