Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell on International Day of the Girl

11 October 2023

NEW YORK, 11 October 2023"Today, as we commemorate the International Day of the Girl, we are reminded of the diverse challenges facing girls around the world, especially in humanitarian crises.

“Gender inequality shapes the lives of all girls, from child marriage and sexual violence to access to education and online information. These challenges are exacerbated in fragile settings and conflicts, where girls and women face heightened risks, often because of displacement. That includes risks of gender-based violence, poverty, and food insecurity.

“Adolescent girls are at a disadvantage before, during, and after a crisis. They are frequently forced to assume adult roles, but without the skills and networks to cope safely. Girls are often the last to access humanitarian services, yet they are expected to be the first to provide care for siblings and family. No longer seen as a child and not yet an adult, they can often be overlooked in emergency responses.

"On the International Day of the Girl, we must focus on the stark, and unique, challenges girls face while paying tribute to the courage and resilience of girls as a powerful force for global change.

“From leading climate awareness in Malawi to campaigning against child marriage in Nepal, and working to end gender-based violence in Sierra Leone, girls are driving change in their communities and their countries. They are speaking up and demanding that their voices be heard. We must listen.  

“UNICEF is calling on the international community and governments to step up their commitments to address the pressing challenges faced by girls, especially adolescents.

"With the right support at the right time, girls will change the world."


Notes to Editors: 

Read the joint call to action here

Explore UNICEF’s country-level profiles on adolescent girls’ well-being here. 

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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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