For millions of women and girls around the world, gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights remain elusive.
For instance, nearly 14 million children are forced into marriage every year; that is 37,000 girls being denied their fundamental human rights every single day! Every day, 7.3 million babies in developing countries are born to mothers who are 17 or younger. One in three women is subjected to gender-based violence, and 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I call on all countries to take action to protect the rights of women and girls and to rectify long-standing gender inequality.
Gender equality and equal protection of human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, are important in and of themselves. But they are also a means to achieving internationally agreed-upon social and economic objectives, including the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the international community in September 2015. These goals emphasize the achievement of gender equality, good health and quality education for all and the elimination of poverty.
For more than four decades, UNFPA has helped improve women’s health and advance their rights. The Fund will continue pushing the health and rights agenda through 2030, when the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved, and beyond, until all women and girls everywhere are on an equal footing with men and have the power and the means to exercise their basic human rights.