Date of Meeting: 11 October 2017

Meeting Organizer: UNICEF

ISJC Staff Present: Maj Victoria Edmonds, Lt Jemimah Ayanga, Capt Fouzia Mubarik, Dr Laurelle Smith, Jacob Hevenor

Reporter: Jacob Hevenor

Which SDG does this topic cover? 5, 8

Type of meeting: Series of speakers

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Event opened by Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF

  • Girls have shown excellent resilience because they face many more barriers than other people groups, yet persevere.
    • Refugee girls are exposed to additional dangers – the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and the Rohingya groups in Bangladesh are examples.
  • Girls need protection, health and education. We should match their resilience with our own resolve.
  • A priority is accessible schools that continue even in emergency/crisis.
  • It’s important to listen to girls themselves: a great new technology is U-Report, a social messaging app for gathering feedback especially in areas of already high poverty.
  • The future of the world is in the hands of our children, the future of our children is in our hands!


Laura Londén, Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA

  • Various data measures show improvement of living standards for girls worldwide – but the poorest few are being left behind.
    • Example in Yemen: 830,000 girls have lost access to education due to civil war.
  • We support a girl-led health and education program.
  • In fact, many of the SDGs can be reached through girls, such as ending child marriage and ending female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • UNFPA is committed to addressing the physical and emotional needs of girls which are a consequence of crisis.

Irlane and Luiza, Plan International Girl Advocates (two Brazilian girls telling their stories)

  • Irlane heard of a rape in her community and is now pushing for the government to pass a law against it. She is outraged about what happened, but also outraged that nothing is being done about it.
  • Luiza lives in a tough Rio de Janeiro favela (slum). She saw a woman almost die from partner violence, but had to flee when the partner pulled out a gun. She doesn’t even know if the woman is still alive – we have to do something to prevent this.


Anne-Marie Akiki, International Medical Director, International Medical Corps Iraq

  • There are millions of girls living in emergency who each have potential, but compared to their male counterparts are less likely to receive life-saving information, education and medication.
  • Girls in crisis become isolated, and as a result become mostly dependent on others.
    • This can lead to sexual violence and other kinds of exploitation.
  • A graphic was presented (shown at right) to display how a girl is most closely connected to her community, and any service providers must connect or link through the community to reach her. If you want to tailor a response specifically for girls then you need to look at their specific experiences. Their communities help them link to service providers.
  • What are the skills girls need to empower themselves and give themselves a bigger voice? How do we make service provision adaptable to their needs?
  • International Medical Corps of Iraq has made an adolescent girls toolkit for Iraqi girls.
    • The main goal is to design programs that respond to what girls say their needs are.
      • Step 1: Work with the girls, building trust in the group, teaching life skills, reproductive health, safety skills, financial education and leadership skills.
      • Step 2: Work with the communities to identify decision makers, build their trust and explore their views.
      • Step 3: Work with service providers (child protection groups, health and education services, etc.).
  • We need a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach. Ensuring programmes are designed for the needs girls actually have, not for what we think they might have.
  • There should be a focus on girls even when it’s not an emergency- this makes the emergency, when it does come, less drastic.


Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of the Status of Women, Canada

  • She attended CSW in 2013, and learned that efforts to empower women must be cross-sectoral, multicultural, multi-faith, intergenerational, include men and boys and use personal stories!
  • We need data and statistics to inform policies but the thing that moves human beings into action is hearing personal stories.


Kathryn Travers, Executive Director, Women in Cities International and board member of Safetipin

  • Cities present new opportunities around education and empowerment. We need to help girls access that through a girls-first approach.
    • Includes programming with and for girls, where challenges are diagnosed and solutions are offered.
    • We often ask “What are the problems?” but we don’t often ask “What are your ideas for solutions?”
    • We need to build not only the capacity of the girls but also the capacity of stakeholders to know why girls are needs, and what the consequences are if they are not involved.
    • Girls can speak for themselves- it is so impactful.
    • When young girls were asked to describe their ideal city they wanted street lights, safe walking paths, bus stops. Girls know the solutions.
  • Consider the potential of mobile technology, as young people and girls are very capable of understanding.
    • New app Safetipin is a personal safety app
      • Gives safety scores to neighborhoods
      • Links up girls with other walking buddies
      • Includes emergency call buttons
      • This app can help inform city planning by identifying unsafe areas that need lighting or CCTV
    • Also emphasised value of U-Report


Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women

  • Girls face an intersection of disadvantages even before crisis, and crisis exacerbates them.
  • Girls are not helpless victims, rather they are a source of power. The power to resist and grow. We need to evoke, and tap in to, this power.
  • There has been progress, but 75% of refugees and displaced people are women and children.
  • Every 10 minutes a girl dies from sexual violence.
  • 133 million girls worldwide have experienced female genital mutilation.
  • In crisis all of these stats are worse, like child marriage is 4x as common.
  • Boy preference and girl aversion (infanticide) has to change.
  • We can’t just ask them to cope. We need to help them navigate a situation that is inherently skewed against them, with access to basic services and amenities, especially for those fleeing home.
  • Together we will set girls free and unleash girl power, generation after generation.


What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

There is no moment when empowering girls is not important: even in times of peace, we need to be building support systems so that emergencies or crises do not make them exceedingly vulnerable.

The resilience of girls deserves to be matched by a resolve within The Salvation Army to help them reach their potential.

The Salvation Army should be working in local communities to make them safe enough for girls to feel free, maybe by utilising new mobile technology.


Web links for more information Personal safety app UNICEF social messaging tool for on-the-ground data entry Video created by The Global Goals page of the UN for International Day of the Girl


Tags: United Nations, Women, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG5: Gender Equality