9 October 2020

Deputy Secretary-General, in Video Message for International Day, Urges Front-Line Girl Leaders to ‘Be Bold in Your Demands’

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the International Day of the Girl for the Girls Rights Townhall Event, today:

As we mark the International Day of the Girl this year, I am happy to see our focus on the diversity of adolescent girls’ voices.  Adolescent girls are anything but homogenous.  Their diversity is one of their strengths — including geography, ethnicity, race, age and disability.

This year, 2020, has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused unprecedented social and economic disruption.  At the same time, global movements are raising their voices against inequality and for social justice.

As we look forward to recovering from the pandemic by creating more equal, sustainable and inclusive societies, amplifying and unleashing the strength and power of this generation of 600 million adolescent girls has never been more important.

Today’s girls are global leaders on issues including the climate crisis, education for all, child marriage, racial injustice, and mental health.  To girl leaders on the frontlines, and to all girls, I say:  Be bold in your demands, and be confident in the steps you are taking.  Your solutions and ideas are essential to step up the pace of progress.

Because while there is progress to celebrate, there are also gaps that are holding back millions of adolescent girls around the globe.  Two out of three girls of secondary school age are in school today, up from one in two in 1998.

But in at least 20 countries, hardly any poor, rural young woman complete secondary school.  And even in middle and higher-income countries, only 14 per cent of girls who were top performers in science, technology and mathematics expected to work in those fields, compared to 26 per cent of top-performing boys.  Adding to these gaps, 4 million teenage girls are now at risk of early marriage due to COVID-19, further curtailing their life chances and opportunities.

As we celebrate the achievements and potential of girls, we must keep up the pressure for change.  The United Nations stands together with today’s generation of girls, and for a better, more equal future for all.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.