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Twenty-five years of progress for women since the Beijing Declaration

Too many girls still struggle to be free from discrimination and violence

Equiterra exists only in our imagination, but it’s a place that we can all aspire to build. To date, no country in the world has achieved gender equality. Join #GenerationEquality to make this a reality in your family, community and country.

(19 March 2020) Twenty-five years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was issued, a new report, A New Era for Girls: Taking stock of 25 years of progress,brings together global evidence on progress for girls in the years since the historic first UN World Conference of Women was held in China, September 1995. The report, jointly prepared by Plan International and UN Women, shows that despite much progress made in advancing the condition of women and girls, gaps remain in achieving the commitments agreed upon in the 1995 Platform for Action. Girls are far from being free of discrimination and far from enjoying their full rights, especially adolescent and marginalized girls.

More girls than ever are completing primary school. Globally, the number of out-of-school girls has dropped by 79 million in the last two decades, from 208 million in 1998 to 129 million today. Yet, nearly one in four girls aged 15-19 is neither employed nor in education or training compared to 1 in 10 boys of the same age, showing that in the transition from learning to meaningful work, adolescent girls are left far behind.

Since 1995, the proportion of early married children has declined globally. However, roughly 12 million girls are still married in childhood per year, and 4 million are at risk of female genital mutilation.

Since 1995, the proportion of young women who were married as children has declined globally from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5. However, roughly 12 million girls are still married in childhood per year, and 4 million are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).One in every twenty girls aged 15-19 – around 13 million – has experienced rape in their lifetimes.

One in four girls have experienced recent violence by a partner. Few seek help. Social acceptance of sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls is pervasive, even amongst young people. Globally, more than a third of both adolescent girls and boys justify wife-beating for any reason.

Investments in adolescent healthcare are urgently needed. Adolescent girls continue to bear the brunt of the HIV epidemic.

Investments in adolescent healthcare are urgently needed. Adolescent girls continue to bear the brunt of the HIV epidemic, for example. Globally, 970,000 adolescent girls aged 10-19 years are living with HIV today compared to 740,000 in 1995, a 31% increase. Adolescent girls account for nearly three in four new infections.

The report calls for more targeted investments in adolescent girls, as a unique group with interlinked vulnerabilities, opportunities and perspectives and for stronger investments in data to drive evidence-informed policy and programme decisions.

UNICEF is partnering closely with UN Women to champion adolescent girls’ voices and solutions throughout the campaign Generation Equality led by UN Women, the Governments of France and Mexico and civil society, which brings together changemakers and leaders from around the world to accelerate action for girls' and women’s empowerment.



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Exploring how gender equality can be achieved through social protection
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Exploring how gender equality can be achieved through social protection

Aysha Akhter Khushi (18) started her own business selling eggs with the help of cash transfers. (28 January 2020) UNICEF’s Office of Research—Innocenti has today launched its new five-year research programme exploring gender-sensitive and age-responsive social protection (GRASSP). Funded by the Department for International Development, the programme will examine how social protection can enhance gender equality outcomes throughout the world.See our GRASSP workTo mark the launch, eleven think pieces written by gender and social protection experts from around the globe, stimulate thinking and dialogue, and push boundaries on how social protection can be improved to achieve development goals, such as poverty eradication, whilst contributing to gender equality.Read the 11 think pieces by gender & social protection expertsEvidence shows that social protection, like cash transfers or health insurance, can help address poverty, improve well-being, and provide support during shocks from childhood through to old age. However, despite the enormous impact on people’s lives, social protection has fallen short of its potential for transformative effects for gender equality.GRASSP will help improve understanding of how gender- and age-related vulnerabilities and inequalities can be addressed through social protection, with the aim of reducing poverty and achieving gender equality.See our GRASSP work.Read the 11 think pieces by gender & social protection experts.Discover more about GRASSP.
Social Protection: A Key Component for Achieving Gender Equality
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Social Protection: A Key Component for Achieving Gender Equality

(3 May 2019) International attention towards social protection has increased enormously as governments adopt and invest in more programmes. In fact, more than 3 billion people around the world today are covered by at least one social protection benefit. Despite the pervasiveness of social protection, and its potential to provide income security and resilience against shocks, one vital component is often missing in its design and implementation—gender dynamics. This has led to gaps in our understanding on how different social protection programmes and features, contribute to foster positive gender outcomes. Adolescent girls and boys who benefit from social protection programmes in the Mbeya region of Tanzania take part in livelihood and life skills training provided by village mentors.As global attention turns towards social protection, there is a concurrent emphasis on adolescence as a critical opportunity to fast-track social change. Adopting a life cycle lens to social protection, with a focus on adolescents in particular, is important for multiple reasons. Firstly, adolescence is a period of rapid biological change, in which young people experience puberty, brains change rapidly, and gender differences emerge. Secondly, adolescents are a growing demographic group, with the global population of adolescents and young people expected to reach 2 billion by 2030.Despite the importance of both gender and age in order to achieve social change, there is little evidence on how social protection systems and programmes can be more gender-responsive, as well as sensitive to different age groups’ specific risks and vulnerabilities. To identify and address these gaps in our knowledge, 35 experts from the fields of academia, practice, and programming will gather at UNICEF’s Office of Research in Florence on the 6th of May for an experts’ workshop on gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection. The event will discuss the evidence base on gender, adolescence and social protection, and create linkages between evidence, policy and programming actors. A series of think pieces by key experts in the fields of gender and social protection, commissioned by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, will also be presented at the workshop. Bodoor, a 17 year old 12th grade student in Azraq Refugee Camp, with her friends at her UNICEF-supported school. She is preparing for her final exams. She and her family, including two sisters and three brothers, have lived in Azraq since it opened in 2014. A keynote address from Charlotte Watts, the Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK’s Department for International Development, will set the tone for the workshop. Following this, discussions throughout the day will identify where the evidence base is robust and where there are evidence gaps that need investments. Panel discussions will explore: How a life course lens is critical for effective and efficient social protection systems, including for adolescents;How social protection programmes and strategies have – or have not – considered gender dynamics in their design and implementation;Design and implementation considerations in gender-responsive social protection;Social protection in the context of humanitarian, climate change, and complex crises.This experts’ workshop is part of the DFID-funded programme on gender-responsive age-sensitive social protection. The think piece series, which discusses the intersection of these three important areas, will be published on the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti website in the coming weeks.Check out UNICEF Innocenti’s Twitter for live updates throughout the workshop. 


GRASSP Think Piece Series
Publication Publication

GRASSP Think Piece Series

The UNICEF’s Office of Research—Innocenti is pleased to launch this think piece series on gender-responsive age-sensitive social protection in low- and middle-income countries. This series seeks to stimulate thinking and dialogue, and push boundaries on how academics, national governments, and the international community as a whole can improve and strengthen social protection systems to achieve the sustainable development goals, such as poverty eradication, whilst contributing to gender equality.

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