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International Day of the Girl
Theme: “Girls Rebuilding the Future”
October 11th, 2023
Arsuz, Hatay


The International Day of the Girl, designated by the United Nations General Assembly, falls on October 11 and serves as a recognition of the rights of girls and the distinct challenges they face around the world. Although the last decades witnessed significant progress in achieving gender equality, including in health, education and political participation; the world also has gone through various movements reversing advancements in gender equality that have severe consequences for girls. In the face of these challenges the Day of the Girl is a unique opportunity to advocate for the urgent need for increased attention and resourcing of key areas that enable girls to realize their rights and achieve their fullest potential. The Day of the Girl is also a platform to recall the Sustainable Development Goal 5.5 that underscores the importance of women and girls’ " full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life"1. When societies empower women and girls to exercise autonomy over their lives and bodies, they and their families thrive.

2023 Theme of International Day of Girl: ‘Invest in Girls Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well Being’

With the above-described approach in focus, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and the Aydın Doğan Foundation have commemorated this important day in Türkiye since 2015, to support national and global initiatives aimed at safeguarding adolescent girls from violence, equipping them with essential life and vocational skills, ensuring access to necessary services, and empowering them with the capacity to influence their own lives and shape our world. In line with the global call to action for this year’s International Day of the Girl2, which calls all actors to “invest in girls’ rights: our leadership, our wellbeing” we will mark the 11th year of this important day by addressing the unique challenges faced by adolescent girls and young women in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that hit Türkiye on the 6th of February 2023.

Impact of the earthquakes on women and girls’ needs and priorities

The impacts of disasters are not gender-neutral; it is well documented that humanitarian situations deepen existing imbalances and exacerbates gender inequalities. In Türkiye, a series of post-earthquake assessments highlighted the gender-specific impact of the earthquakes on affected populations. The Multi-Sector Initial Rapid Needs Assessment (MIRA) conducted in the aftermath of the earthquakes in February 2023 pointed out that female-headed households and lactating women are among the groups most in need; and that the risks of violence against women and girls, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections are expected to be increased. Consultations with women and girls conducted by UNICEF from March to July 20233 also affirmed the risk of increased gender-based violence (GBV) cases in disaster-affected areas, related to overcrowded living conditions, lack of privacy, safety and security measures, increased household tension; as well as the partial disruption of GBV identification, referral, and response services. Since the affected areas were already high-prevalence provinces for child marriage, the risk of child marriage is also significant in relation to increased poverty, GBV, and school dropouts. Additionally, assessments and consultations carried out by UN Women4 after the earthquake also demonstrated an increase in care and domestic work responsibilities of women and girls, due to both increased demand for domestic work and care of children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, as well as the decrease on the supply side, due to damaged and/or closed schools, health and care services.

Furthermore, recent reports established the continued need for hygiene products, along with adolescent-friendly information on menstrual hygiene and sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and safe facilities for hygiene management. As reported by UNFPA5 assessment on this critical issue indicate that SRH services are functioning at 20 % of pre-earthquake capacity, safe motherhood services at 45 %, and newborn care at 35 %. Furthermore, family planning services, including counseling and clinical support for contraceptive methods are found to be inadequate. Considering the integral role of comprehensive reproductive health and rights in girls' empowerment, it is imperative to bridge these gaps and provide accessible, high-quality services in the recovery process.

Girls rebuilding the future in the phase of recovery and reconstruction

In alignment with the concept of “gender-responsive recovery”6, the Day of the Girl event that UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and the Aydın Dogan Foundation is co-organizing this year will shed light to the needs of adolescent girls in the recovery phase, while highlighting the transformative role of adolescent girls in rebuilding gender- equitable cities. Prioritizing women and girls’ leadership and investing not only in their well-being but also in their agency, allowing them to meaningfully engage in the making of gender-equitable cities will be the strategic starting point of the discussions. By involving girls and young women as key actors/leaders of their communities for building back better, we foster a sense of ownership and responsibility, empowering them to become drivers of positive change within their communities.

The event will bring together young people, decision-makers, women’s, youth and humanitarian organizations, role models and press members together to highlight the role of girls and young people in creating resilient and equitable futures, in which girls will claim their bodily autonomy and rights and make their own choices to fulfill their potential.

The event will be held in Arsuz, Hatay, with limited number of invited participants. A detailed agenda will be shared with the confirmed attendees.

Read more about the global commemorations for International Day of the Girl 2023:

1 The Sustainable Development Goals. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/

2 UNICEF, 2023. International Day of the Girl. https://www.unicef.org/gender-equality/international-day-girl-2023#:~:text=The%20International%20Day%20of%20the,full%20spectrum%20of%20girls'%20rights

3 UNICEF, 2023. Focus Groups with Women and Girls (unpublished working paper).

4 UN Women, 2023. Brief on Earthquake in Türkiye: Impacts and Priorities for Women and Girls. https://eca.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2023/03/un-women-brief-on-earthquake-in-turkiye-impacts-and-priorities-for-women-and-girls#view . [PO1]

5 UNFPA, 2023. Earthquake Recovery & Resilience Offer in Türkiye. https://eeca.unfpa.org/en/publications/unfpas-earthquake-recovery-resilience-offer-tu%CC%88rkiye

6 UNDP, 2020. Gender and Recovery Toolkit. https://www.undp.org/publications/undp-gender-and-recovery-toolkit#:~:text=It%20consists%20of%20seven%20thematic,transformative%20recovery%20and%20resilience%20programming.