International Day of the Girl 2018

With Her: A Skilled GirlForce

Two young women in headscarves stand together and hold their invention
UNICEF/UN0206982/Herwig

The challenge

Today's generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed nor in education nor training.

One billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade. More than 90 per cent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, in jobs that are not regulated or protected, and where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common. The most disadvantaged girls, including those in rural areas and those with disabilities, have even less access to decent work. 

“Just like boys, girls can become doctors, lawyers, we can do anything if we have the support. We just want to have the same opportunities.”

Fatima Ansari, Pakistan

Right now, many girls are not developing the skills they will need to secure decent work later in life. Ten per cent of primary-aged girls are out of school. Many more are not able to progress to secondary school and need support developing basic skills in reading and math.

Transferable skills – such as self-confidence, problem solving, teamwork and critical thinking – are essential to succeed in the rapidly changing world of work, yet many schools do not focus on these “21st century skills”, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

Many girls do not have access to mentors, career guidance or the training they need to transition from school to work. Those who are entrepreneurs face barriers to accessing finance or business skills. 

Girls’ full participation in the future workforce requires tackling gender stereotypes across professions and addressing the many systemic barriers to decent work they face.

"If we can give girls the right guidance, they will have the courage and determination to choose a STEM career."

Pratiksha Pandey, Co-Founder WiSTEM

The solution

The world’s 600 million adolescent girls each have the strength, creativity and energy to meet global industry demands. For girls to gain access to the skills they need, they are relying on the global community to join with them.

On 11 October, International Day of the Girl, we are working alongside all girls to expand existing learning opportunities and chart new pathways. We call on the global community to rethink how to prepare them for a successful transition into the world of work.

Under the theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, International Day of the Girl marks the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to highlight, advocate for and invest in girls’ most pressing needs and opportunities to attain skills for employability.

Two teenage girls with backpacks walk to school, Zambia
UNICEF/UN0145564/Schermbrucker
Two teenage girls smile outside of the Matero Girls Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia.

To develop A Skilled GirlForce, the global community should:

  • Rapidly expand access to inclusive education and training.
  • Improve the quality and gender-responsiveness of teaching and learning to enable girls to develop foundational, transferable and job-specific skills for life and work.
  • Create inclusive and accessible schools, training and learning opportunities to empower girls with disabilities.
  • Change gender stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias to provide girls with the same learning and career opportunities as boys.
  • Increase girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning.
  • Create initiatives to support girls’ school-to-work transition, such as career guidance, apprenticeships, internships and entrepreneurship.
  • Deliver large-scale public and private sector programming for girls’ skills and market-adapted training.
  • Enable access to finance and enterprise development for female entrepreneurs.
  • Form strategic partnerships with governments and private companies which can act as thought leaders and financiers, helping to train girls and bring them into the workforce.

On International Day of the Girl, let’s stand with her – the future freelancer, entrepreneur, teacher, scientist, and software engineer – to develop skills now and remove other gender barriers she faces, so that she and every girl can join A Skilled GirlForce.

Resources


Girls’ Education

Addressing the gender-specific needs of girls in education

Generation Unlimited

A global partnership to ensure that every young person is in education, learning, training or employment by 2030

GirlForce: Skills, Education and Training for Girls Now

A generation of girls risks being left outside of the labour force or trapped in vulnerable or low quality employment, due to lack of skills, absence of quality jobs, and gendered expectations of their roles as caregivers.