Washington, D.C.

18 April 2013

Secretary-General's opening remarks at Special Event on 'Girl Rising' [As prepared for delivery]

What a wonderful gathering. I am delighted to join World Bank President Kim, Secretary of State Justine Greening, the talented actress Freida Selena Pinto, Ms. Shabana Basij-Rasikh from the 10 x 10 initiative, Ms. Holly Gordon the producer of Girl Rising, and all of you.

I am very grateful to those who made ‘Girl Rising’ possible.

The stories you are about to see speak for themselves. I will only add that the United Nations is doing everything possible to help the world’s girls.

As Secretary-General, I launched last year the Global Education First Initiative, which among other things, aims to ensure every single girl has a chance to go to school.

In Haiti, UNICEF and UNESCO have provided three quarters of a million schoolkits to girls and boys.  The UN’s global “Stop Rape Now” campaign aims to end sexual violence. And when emergencies hit around the world, the UN Population Fund distributes “dignity kits to women and girls.

It is important to raise funds and awareness. But above all, we have to change attitudes. Everyone can be part of this effort. If you have a mobile phone or a Twitter account, if you have a blog or a Tumblr, you can speak out. You can challenge your president, ministers and congress leaders.

One of the girls in this film calls herself a “superhero”. I quite agree that she is a superhero. And even though she is extraordinary – she is not alone. There are millions of other outstanding young women in our world. When we nurture their minds, protect their bodies and release their potential, we will create an unstoppable force for progress.

Thank you.