Day of the Girl
Belgrade, Serbia, 11. October 2013 – The Australian Embassy and UNICEF Serbia marked today the International Day of the Girl Child at the Media Centre in Belgrade.
The speakers at the press conference were Ambassador of Australia Dr Helena Studdert, UNICEF Deputy Representative , Ms. Lesley Miller, Serbian Commissioner for Protection of Equality, Ms Nevena Petrusic, and State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy, Ms Stana Bozovic.
The United Nations established October 11 to recognize girls’ rights and highlight the unique challenges and solutions to realizing these rights. This year’s Day focuses on Innovating for Girls’ Education, building on the momentum created by last year’s inaugural event.
The good news is that today more girls are in primary school than ever before. But there are still 57 million children of primary school age who do not go to school; 31 million of these are girls.
In Serbia, the rate of enrolment in primary school is generally quite high – 98% for both boys and girls. And data reveal that gender inequality at the primary and secondary school levels has been almost completely eliminated among the general population.
“However, when it comes to children living in poverty or Roma, the situation is much worse, especially in secondary education,” says Lesley Miller. “For the poorest girls, approximately 30% of those aged 15-19 do not attend any form of education. For Roma girls, the figures are still more dramatic, with 83% not attending secondary school. Less than half of these most vulnerable girls ever used a computer, compared to 96% of general population,” she explained.
Clearly, new innovative solutions are needed to have the situation changed. Innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization and, most of all, the engagement of girls and young people, themselves, can be important catalysing forces.
Some examples include: improving means of transportation for girls to get to school – from roads, buses, bicycles to boats; collaboration between schools and banks to facilitate payments to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls; corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work and; deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas.