Empowering women and girls will have a profound impact on the survival and well-being of children, says UNICEF.
According to a press release, UNICEF joined the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) global campaign to mark 7 billion people in the world in New York Yesterday.
‘’The world’s population will reach a major milestone next month as it tops 7 billion. The UNFPA 7 Billion Actions initiative aims to build global awareness around the opportunities and challenges the world faces as it reaches this staggering number of people, most of whom live in the developing world and half of whom are women.’’ The statement read in part.
‘’Today, many people live longer and healthier lives but, billions of others - especially women- struggle to combat poverty, inequality, lack of education and poor healthcare.’’
Despite progress, the lives of millions of girls and women are still overshadowed by discrimination and disempowerment. Girls and women are disproportionally affected by HIV and AIDS and women in most places earn less than men for equal work.
‘’ Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime and more than half of the 67 million primary school age children out of school are girls.’’ It read in part.
The 7 Billion Actions campaign urges governments, NGOs, the private sector, media, academia and individuals to take actions that will reverse these trends and move ahead with measures that will have a positive impact on society to ensure a healthy and equitable world with women playing an equal and central role.
UNICEF believes investment in the health and education of women and girls is key to solving many of the world’s problems. Educated girls are more likely to postpone marriage and child-bearing until they are older and more capable of fulfilling these responsibilities. They are better able to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS and from sexual exploitation and abuse.
Women with access to healthcare and education are far less likely to die in childbirth and far more likely to have healthy babies who survive their infancy and go on to thrive and go to school themselves, benefiting their families and communities.
Every year of secondary education a girl can complete will greatly increase her future income – sometimes by as much as 15 per cent - greatly raising her family’s standard of living and increasing her chances to break out of the cycle of poverty.
Ensuring the eradication of the discriminatory practices that are barriers for women and children to reach their full potential is at the heart of UNICEF’s equity approach.