Given the chance, girls can change this world. Girls are one of the world's greatest untapped resources. Investing in their potential to lift and lead their societies is one of the best investments we can make.
Violence, however, is a significant obstacle limiting girls from reaching their full potential. Some 150 million girls experience sexual abuse every year. In Malaysia, girls made up more than 90 per cent of reported sexual abuse cases in 2011.
Sexual violence particularly has a devastating impact on adolescent and pre-adolescent girls. It can lead to unwanted pregnancies and fuels the spread of infectious disease like HIV.
Boys and men have a particularly important role to play to support and encourage girls to make them feel safer and less intimidated. But at the end of the day, eliminating violence against girls and women starts with US – YOU and ME. We need to make ending violence against girls a little part of our everyday life. We need to intervene when we see violence, and we need to talk about how it's wrong.
UNICEF and our National Ambassadors, Upin and Ipin call on YOU to join us this International Women's Day to "love, care and respect" girls. The time to end violence is now!