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The opportunities of adolescent girls as agents of social change

NEW YORK, 26 April 2010 - A major conference on adolescent girls, hosted by UNICEF and the New School University in New York, begins today. The conference - the 5th annual international affairs conference – is titled Adolescent Girls as the Cornerstones of Society: Building Evidence and Policies for Inclusive Societies.

During the conference which runs from 26 to 28 April 2010 at the New School, key stakeholders from academia, development organisations, the private sector, policy makers and UN officials will discuss the role of adolescent girls in economic, political and social development.

Adolescents currently account for one third of the global population, and of the 2 billion young people under the age of 24, more than 500 million are adolescent girls. “Too often, girls are left out from the benefits of development, not sharing equally with boys in access to education or employment; too often their basic rights remain unfulfilled, due to gender discrimination in the family, in the community and in the law." says Elizabeth Gibbons, UNICEF's Associate Director for Gender, Rights & Civic Engagement. “Unless there is accelerated improvement in the realization of adolescent girls’ rights, achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 will be impossible” Gibbons added.

As part of the conference, more than 20 original papers will be presented identifying the need for additional empirical data on adolescent girls and discussing the benefits of social protection infrastructures to protect young women from sexual violence and discrimination. The panels and scholarship will build on a growing body of evidence pointing out the unique opportunities that adolescent girls can hold as agents of social change.

It will expand on the work of partnerships such as the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Adolescent Girls, the UN Foundation and Nike’s Coalition for Adolescent Girls, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, which aim at promoting the rights of adolescent girls by targeted investments.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Stern, The New School, + 1 212 229-5667, sterns@newschool.edu

Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF Media, New York, + 1 212 326-7162, rfordham@unicef.org




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