October 11 annually is a day of reflection of the challenges faced by many young girls worldwide — challenges that young girls should not have to bear, such as genital mutilation, child marriage, rape and slavery.
The International Day of the Girl Child is a day where these issues and cultural divides are bought to the forefront of our national agenda.
While there are steady improvements being made in some developing countries, it is the sad reality that many young girls are prevented from living long, fulfilling lives.
Around the world, there are too many girls facing innumerable obstacles due to the sheer fact of their female gender.
There are still too many girls who are subject to inhumane practices that exploit and abuse them. There are too many girls who are treated as second class citizens, denied education and sometimes even denied equality in food allocation and healthcare simply because they were born into this world as female.
The result of this inequality is that the boys and men in their society continue to outpace and outrank them.
Today we recognise how empowering girls is not just about the girls themselves, but their families, communities and society at large.
The United Nations agreed to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015 as part of an initiative to create a better future for our world.
As a global leader on gender equality, Australia supports the Sustainable Development Goals set out under the Agenda.
Australia’s aid programme actively supports gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Government has set a target requiring at least 80 per cent of aid investments, regardless of their objectives, to effectively address gender issues in their implementation. On top of this, last month we announced a $6.5 million investment in the UN Women ‘Making Every Woman and Girl Count’ program, a public-private partnership aimed at closing the gap in gender-related data.
To track how we are progressing, we need to work together to address the widespread lack of data about women and girls status in society.
Improving the availability of gender-related data, as well as the capacity to analyse and use it to inform policy, is critical for making progress on gender equality.
To this end the Government provided $180,000 to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to build the evidence base for gender indicators for culturally and linguistically diverse women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women with disability.