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On International Day of the Girl Child, a spotlight on innovation

Join American singer and songwriter Katy Perry, who is lending her support for International Day of the Girl Child.  Watch in RealPlayer


By Zahra Sethna

International Day of the Girl Child is 11 October 2013. This year’s Day focuses on innovating for girls’ education. Smart and creative use of technology, policies, partnerships and, most of all, the engagement of young people, themselves, are important for overcoming barriers to girls’ learning and achievement.

NEW YORK, United States of America, 7 October 2013 – On 11 October, UNICEF and its partners are marking the International Day of the Girl Child, a day established by the United Nations to highlight the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

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Ms. Perry plays with girls in Ampihaonana, Madagascar. Their school was destroyed by a cyclone and has since been rebuilt by UNICEF using innovative weather-resistant materials.

A series of events is taking place around the world to highlight this year’s theme, ‘Innovating for Girls’ Education’, which recognizes the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward.

American singer and songwriter Katy Perry is lending her support for International Day of the Girl Child.

Creative ways to get girls to school

Although today more girls are in primary school than ever before, 31 million girls of primary school age are still not in school. Even when girls are in school, they face major challenges that make it difficult for them to continue to attend and learn.

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In Bangladesh, innovative solar-powered floating schools are helping ensure uninterrupted learning for girls and boys living in communities affected by floods and rising sea water.

Innovation for girls’ education has the power to change that. Making even incremental changes in how education is accessed, designed and delivered can strengthen girls’ participation, learning and empowerment.

On a recent trip to Madagascar, Ms. Perry visited a primary school in Ampihaonana that had been rebuilt by UNICEF after a cyclone destroyed it in 2011. There, innovation came in the form of weather-resistant classrooms. Using compressed interlocking earth bricks that require no mortar, UNICEF constructed 240 primary and four preschool classrooms with associated latrine blocks. In addition to reducing impact on the environment, this construction is designed to withstand some of the worst weather.

In Bangladesh, innovation takes the shape of solar-powered floating schools serving communities affected by floods and rising sea water, so that girls and boys don’t have to miss school because of climate-related natural disaster.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-1803/Noorani
A teacher helps a girl, who is in Grade 1, learn the Bangla alphabet, aboard her floating school. The mobile classroom is even equipped with computers and other electronic learning devices.

In South Africa, to address a shortage of skills in science, technology and engineering, and to encourage girls to perform better in those fields, the Techno Girl programme identifies young females in underprivileged schools and places them in corporate mentorship and skills development initiatives. This career mentorship helps them gain confidence and links their school lessons to the skills they’ll need to succeed in the ‘real’ working world.

Doing things differently

Innovation can come in many other forms, as well, from the smart and creative use of technology to innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization and community mobilization. What is clear, however, is that new thinking is critical to bridge the gaps that still remain in achieving global goals for education and gender equality.

All United Nations agencies, Member States, civil society organizations and private sector actors must harness the tools at their disposal to innovate for and with girls to advance their education and to bring about solutions that are not only more creative, but also more effective, efficient, sustainable and just.

More information on International Day of the Girl Child



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