Empowering girls and young women

Afghan Refugee Girls Attend School in Iran (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

Girls and young women possess a huge untapped potential. “When empowering women it is always important to start early, it is the best process” Susana Vas Patto of the Permanent Mission of Portugal stated in her opening remarks at the briefing session “Empowering Disadvantaged Girls and Young Women”, arranged today by the UN Programme on Youth.

The session featured monologues and a panel discussion focusing on the causes of disadvantage and vulnerability in girls and young women and mechanisms for improving their participation in society, through active leadership, education and access to basic services.

Lillian Rodriguez of Project Girl Performance Collective began the presentations with a monologue sharing her experiences of growing up in the Bronx. Platforms such as this give girls a way to speak and express themselves. 

Investing in girls and young women is important for many reasons. According to Sylvia Wong, Technical Specialist on Adolescents/Youth of UNFPA, “investing in women is smart and just, promotes social justice and development and closes the gender gap.” Investors also need to know why, when and where to invest. 

“The biggest challenge facing girls and young women are the society they live in and how the government is helping them”, said sixteen year old Iztel Delgado, Teen Advisor of Girl Up Campaign. She also highlighted the importance of showing girls that they are cared for, particularly young women in developing countries.

The five key policies that the UN, as well as Girl Up are focusing on for the hardest to reach girls, are to help them become educated, healthy, safe, counted and leaders.

The promotion of education and the development as leaders are some of the tools that will increase visibility and strengthen the role of women. Improving and increasing education, awareness and participation opportunities will help to improve the roles of young women in society.

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