International Day of the Girl - GirlForce: Unscripted & Unstoppable

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore

Henrietta Fore - UNICEF Executive Director
Two girls riding their bikes from school
11 October 2019

Today’s adolescent girls are the face of courage, strength and resilience. They are the powerful change-makers driving progress in their families, schools and communities. And it is their voices, choices, and opportunities that will define their future – and the future of entire societies.   

On International Day of the Girl, UNICEF celebrates girls who are “unscripted and unstoppable” in their drive for change in their own lives and in their families, schools and communities.

Brave girls like Janaki*, a 14-year-old from Nepal’s southern plains, who submitted a note to her school’s suggestion box to help stop her impending marriage. Because she raised her voice, her school and her parents stopped the marriage and let her continue her education.

Advocates like 14-year-old Fatoumata from Mali, who goes door-to-door in her community to speak to parents about the importance of sending their children to school.   

Change-makers like 12-year-old Lilly, campaigning for an end to single-use plastics in Thailand.

UNICEF is committed to working with and for all girls like Janaki, Fatoumata, and Lilly to ensure they have every opportunity to learn, be healthy, live a life free of violence, and move from dreaming to achieving. 

In recent years, our work to address adolescent girls’ most pressing challenges and opportunities has gained momentum. More girls are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children, and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world of work.  

But, we do not achieve these results alone. Through our partnerships with UN agencies, governments, civil society, and the private sector we are working to stand behind the world’s more than 1.1 billion girls younger than 18 as they take on the future. Investing in them – including in their health, education and safety – allows them to build better lives and to create a more peaceful and prosperous world for us all. 

Building on this work, we are excited to announce two new private sector partnerships dedicated to supporting UNICEF’s target of reaching 6.5 million girls with skills for employability, learning, personal empowerment and active citizenship by 2021.

First, Clé de Peau Beauté is funding a $8.7 million three-year partnership with UNICEF to support girls to reclaim their rights and unlock their boundless potential through education, employment and empowerment programmes. The partnership expands on our work in education, training and mentorship with a particular focus on bridging the gap for girls. The partnership will start in Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Niger, and expand to additional countries in the next year.

Second, Chloé announced a new €1.8 million three-year partnership with UNICEF to equip girls and young women with the confidence to dare to be themselves and the skills for a wider world of opportunity. The partnership accelerates our portfolio of innovative programme models toward gender equality, including marketable digital skills, social entrepreneurship and mentorship. Bolivia, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Tajikistan are among our pathfinder UNICEF country offices designing and delivering this programming approach.

These two partnerships join a growing community of partners dedicated to supporting our work for adolescent girls across the organization in areas of education, child protection, health, nutrition, WASH, and many more. We thank each of them for their commitment to girls.

As we celebrate International Day of the Girl, let’s unite to uphold girls’ equal rights, equal voices and equal influence in our families, communities and nations. And let’s not forget we are here to not only lift girls’ voices up, we are here to step aside and let them lead and then step in behind them to support their leadership.

For every girl, every right.


Henrietta H. Fore

UNICEF Executive Director