DHAKA/Bangladesh, 21 June 2004 - UNICEF and the Asian Cricket Council have joined hands on one of the biggest development challenges facing South Asia. With 46 million children out of school in the region, the majority of them girls, the two bodies have agreed to highlight the massive loss this represents for children, society and the progress of countries in the region.
Welcoming the launch of the ‘Fair Play for Girls’ Campaign, UNICEF’s Executive Director Carol Bellamy said, "It has been proved time and again that if you cannot get education right for girls, then other development priorities suffer. I offer a standing ovation to the cricket authorities in the region for having recognised the accelerator effect of educating girls. By lending their considerable weight to this campaign they will help make a difference and bring more children - both girls and boys - into school."
Fair Play for Girls recognises that girls in South Asia face an uneven playing field in life. The agreement between UNICEF and the ACC will seek to highlight the need to accelerate enrolment and retention of girls in schools, and emphasis the right of children to play. Many children, particularly girls, are kept out of organised games and sports throughout South Asia. This has implications for health and reflects marked social exclusion.
As he joined the UNICEF Regional Director Sadig Rasheed to sign the memorandum of understanding in Dhaka, the President of the Asian Cricket Council, Mohammad Ali Asghar MP, said "The ACC recognises the social benefits of sport and its ability to bring people together in a harmonious way to promote greater understanding and benefits for all. We are delighted to be able to work with UNICEF in South Asia to promote girl’s education and to encourage wider inclusion through sport."
The Asian Cricket Council represents 20 cricket boards in Asia and aims to promote and develop the sport in the region. In South Asia improving educational opportunities for girls is a UNICEF priority in all countries. But this aim is being particularly emphasised in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan ahead of next year’s target date under the Millennium Development Goals for the achievement of gender parity in primary and secondary education.
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