Investing in women and girls is smart and a human rights imperative

By Koffi Kouame, UNFPA Country Representative

Gender equality is a catalyst for progress and development. Ensuring equal opportunities for women and girls paves the way for a more equitable and sustainable world for all.

There is no wiser investment than investing in women and girls to reduce inequality and poverty and set the stage for development.

“Only by investing in the societal, economic and political inclusion of women and girls will we strengthen our social fabric and create something truly beautiful: A future that works for all,” remarked Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Our world is at a critical crossroads for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Amidst increasing conflicts, climate change, and polarizing societies, and women’s and girls’ rights are seriously threatened or being rolled back. Therefore, standing up for women’s and girls’ rights has become more critical than ever.

Millions of women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if comprehensive strategies are employed and earnest efforts made aimed at improving their access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, education, fair and equal wages, and expanding social equities.

Investing in reproductive health is very cost-effective and a key to economic development. Ensuring access to reproductive health, particularly family planning and maternal health services, helps women and girls avoid unintended or early pregnancies and unsafe abortions, as well as pregnancy-related disabilities.

Investing in girls’ education and health helps them stay in school longer, marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children, develop life skills, and earn higher incomes. They can help lift themselves and their present and future families out of poverty. We need to design tailored programmes that could address the needs of the most vulnerable girls in their respective settings.  

When women and girls have more opportunities for education, training, and employment, they will benefit their families, communities, and ultimately their nations. Given skills and opportunities, they can be the change makers driving progress in their communities.

Women and girls around the world also continue to face unprecedented challenges to their physical and mental well-being and the protections needed for a life without violence. Protecting them from gender-based violence and harmful practices is essential to ensure that they fulfill their potential and advancement. Promoting positive masculinity is one critical area in the effort to ensure the well-being and protection needs of women and girls.

It is imperative to make women’s rights a top political and development priority. This includes ensuring women’s equal political participation and representation, which is key to building robust democracies and guaranteeing more inclusive decisions.

As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, firmly believes that investing in women and girls is a human rights imperative and the right thing to do for building inclusive societies and laying the foundation for sustainable development.  UNFPA will continue to provide unwavering support to Ethiopia to address its challenges and sustain the progress it has already made towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

This content is published by UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, in connection with International Women’s Day 2024.

The post Investing in women and girls is smart and a human rights imperative appeared first on Capital Newspaper.

Source: Link to the Post

Leave a Reply