The Day of the Girl also focuses attention on the challenges girls face, like violence, education inequality and child marriage. For the millions of girls in countries prone to conflict and crisis, these challenges are especially formidable. When women and girls lack power in their homes and communities, every shock—whether armed conflict, drought, flood or COVID-19—inevitably affects them differently than others.
The UN agencies, civil society around the world are celebrating International Day of the Girl Child under the theme “Digital generation – Our generation.” Together, they are calling for equal access to the internet and digital devices for girls’ and targeted investments to facilitate opportunities for girls’ to safely and meaningfully access, use, lead and design technology.
Digital inclusion and literacy open new avenues to learning, earning and leading for girls, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic has also deepened the gender divide around connectivity and online safety, with girls facing economic and social barriers to internet and device access.
Earlier this year, the Generation Equality Forum set technology and innovation as a priority in global conversations on gender equality. Leaders from civil society, governments, the private sector and youth movements made commitments to build more inclusive digital societies through providing equitable opportunities to girls, investing in feminist technology and putting girls and young women at the center of designing and learning solutions for the digital world.
The strength, health and empowerment of the world’s girls are a matter for every single day of the year. The International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to recommit to this global imperative.
“Today’s girls are part of a digital generation. It is our responsibility to join with them in all their diversity, amplify their power and solutions as digital change-makers, and address the obstacles they face in the digital space,” UN Secretary General, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, said in a message on this day.
“The path to girls’ digital equality is steep. A massive gap in internet use spanning geographies and generations has grown from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent six years later. In more than two thirds of all countries, girls make up only 15 percent of graduates in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math,” he said.
UN Secretary General said, “Girls have equal ability and immense potential in these fields, and when we empower them, everyone benefits. I saw this long before I began my political career, when I was a teacher in Lisbon and witnessed the power of education to uplift individuals and communities. That experience has guided my vision for gender equality in education ever since.”
“Investments in closing the digital gender divide yield huge dividends for all. The United Nations is committed to working with girls so that this generation, whoever they are and whatever their circumstances, can fulfil their potential. The Generation Equality Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation is our new platform, where governments, civil society, the private sector and young leaders are coming together around collective initiatives and investments to support girls’ digital access, skills and creativity.”
“Together, let us ensure that girls play their full part in the digital generation to design and secure our common future.”