International Day of the Girl Child

Investing in girls is key for sustainable development

UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women in Turkey paired up with Aydin Dogan Foundation to mark International Day of the Girl Child with a special event, which spotlighted the importance of girls’ empowerment, so that they can pioneer social change.

Date: Thursday, October 12, 2017

Participants of the International girl Child Day Conference in Turkey. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation
International Day of the Girl Child Conference, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation

On 11 October, The International Day of the Girl Child Conference themed “Empowered Girls, Empowered Future: Girls as Social Change Agents in the 21st Century,” brought together civil society organizations, academicians, students and the international community to discuss how to overcome gender stereotypes and other challenges to empower girls and make them change agents in their communities.

UN Women Country Program Director Fulya Vekiloğlu . Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation
Fulya Vekiloğlu, UN Women Country Prgram Director. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation

The conference, organized by Aydın Doğan Foundation, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women, had a special focus on the role of empowered girls in emergency response and resilience planning. Participants have agreed that gender equality in education is the most important path leading to sustainable development.

UN Women Country Program Director Fulya Vekiloğlu highlighted that gender inequalities particularly in access to technology and science should be eliminated for sustainable development and said, “Sustainable development is based on the principle of ‘Leave No One Behind,’ regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, nationality, religious or ethnic origins.”

Hanzade Doğan Boyner, Chairwoman of the Aydın Doğan Foundation. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation
Hanzade Doğan Boyner, Chairwoman of the Aydın Doğan Foundation. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation

Giving the keynote speech of the conference, Hanzade Doğan Boyner, Chairwoman of the Aydın Doğan Foundation, said, “If we allocated more resources for girls` education and if there were more female representation in decision mechanisms, we could be more fit to tackle global issues such as global warming."

"It is a day to remind the public that we cannot leave anyone behind -especially girls - because they will build our future societies together with boys," said Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkey.

Karl Kulessa, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Turkey, said, “Our efforts today to allow a 10-year girl to achieve her potential will determine how the world will be 15 years later.”

“What we can do together is to commit ourselves to change the social norms and practises that inhabit girls and young women from tapping into and realizing their true potential,” said Nona Zicherman, UNICEF Turkey Deputy Representative.

Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, the Executive Director of the Royal Academy of Science. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation
Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, the Executive Director of the Royal Academy of Science. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation

Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, the Executive Director of the Royal Academy of Science, who is a winner of numerous awards for her studies on science, art, literature and humanitarian affairs and holds a PhD in human genetics, came to Istanbul to deliver the keynote speech at the conference.

“We must encourage girls to choose science. Girls and women need to be determined in achieving their rights and goals. I have a dream that women in science will walk on the red carpet, women in science will be celebrities and become UN goodwill ambassadors,” she said.

A session called ‘Youth Talks’ gathered young girls and boys to discuss how they overcome gender inequalities, especially in education. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation
A session called ‘Youth Talks’ gathered young girls and boys to discuss how they overcome gender inequalities, especially in education. Photo: Aydin Dogan Foundation

A session called ‘Youth Talks’ gathered young girls and boys to discuss how they overcome gender inequalities, especially in education. Participants agreed that support from the family is vital for the empowerment of girls in all areas of life especially in education.

Speaking at this session, Ravda Nur Cuma, the founder of the Ravda Nur Foundation and a staunch advocate of educational rights of youth, expressed her feelings about being a refugee and shared her opinion on how to overcome gender inequalities. “Integration is the most important step one has to take to live in a different country. We have the right to go to school. I go from door to door in refugee camps to talk to girls about how great it is to go to school. I never stop. I can change the world. Even a young refugee girl can make a change with limited resources,” she said.

The conference was organized for the third time this year in Turkey to mark the International Day of the Girl Child, which is celebrated every year to highlight the gender inequalities faced by girls all over the world.

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International Girl Child Day Conference, 2017, Turkey, #DKÇGK2017