The second International Day of the Girl Child Conference was held in Istanbul on Oct. 11, hosted by the Aydın Doğan Foundation in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), U.N. Women, and UNICEF.
Focusing on the main theme of “Empowered Girls, Empowered Future: Inclusive and quality education, an end to child marriages,” this year’s conference aimed to raise awareness on empowering girls while providing a platform for discussion on preventing child marriage and removing obstacles to achieving gender equality in education.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference at Hilton Istanbul, Aydın Doğan Foundation President Hanzade Doğan Boyner drew attention to illiterate woman and underage marriages, urging communities to protect girls, stop violence against them, and prevent the deprivation of their fundamental right to education.
“Today, there are 500 million illiterate women in the world. Some 200 million women have been married under age. Unless we take action, a further 100 million women will be married under age in the next 10 years. Those children, whose fundamental human right to education is taken from them, are exposed to violence. In order to stop this situation, the U.N. has called all the world to take action with the motto of ‘Empowered Girls. Empowered Futures.’ We should also join hands, accelerate our works and protect our girls and children as the press, academics and NGOs,” Doğan Boyner said.
The foundation head also noted that investment in programs for girls would create a multiplier effect, leading to a brighter future.
“We know that the child who continues education can better protect himself/herself against violence. We know that if we give equal rights to girls and exhibit equal love from the day they are born, they will certainly plot a way for themselves in life and achieve success. We also know that investment made in girls creates a multiplier effect. They educate much brighter generations as mothers,” Doğan Boyner said.
She also added that the path to global peace would only pass through education and gender equality.
“Communities that leave half of their population without education only because of gender, despise and allow violence against them are enslaved to remain in the dark. Those societies in our globalizing world will not only remain in the dark themselves but also dim the light surrounding them. Therefore, the most important way to global peace passes through education. Education and equality in education are one of the keys to global peace. We all know that. What we have to do is not to drop the significance of this issue from the agenda. Therefore, I really care about this conference,” Doğan Boyner said.
Doğan Boyner also added that the foundation’s support and efforts on girls’ education would continue.
“As the Aydın Doğan Foundation, girls’ education is of top priority for us. We will continue to provide support for the ‘Dad, Send Me to School’ campaign. Apart from that, we will also continue to help every girl that we can reach, such as by providing university to girls,” Doğan Boyner said.
Meanwhile, U.N. Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey Kamal Malhotra said in his speech that the progression of girls in a society amounted to the progression of society.
Malhotra said investment in women and girls’ education was the key to success, noting that providing the right to equal education for girls would also lead to a better future.
UNICEF Turkey Representative Philippe Duamelle said it was very important for girls to securely shift to adulthood and live a productive and satisfactory life.
Duamelle also stated that some 700 million women in the world marry underage and are forced to work in unskilled jobs at a far more dramatic rate than their male counterparts.
The opening ceremony of the conference also saw the participation of Doğan Holding Chairwoman Begümhan Doğan Faralyalı, Hürriyet Chairwoman Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin, and Aydın Doğan Foundation Board of Directors President Candan Fetvacı.
Also among this year’s participants were British journalist Lesley Abdela; CNN International’s Becky Anderson; former Harvard Graduate School of Education Associate Dean Richard Rowe; Monica Singh, a fashion student who survived a brutal acid attack in India; Girl Child Network founder Betty Makoni; U.N. Women Youth Champion Tennille Amorve; and UNICEF Turkey Goodwill Ambassador Tuba Büyüküstün.
With advocacy efforts from Turkey, Canada and Peru, the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 declared Oct. 11 the annual International Day of the Girl Child to end discrimination against girls and to fully and effectively ensure the human rights of girls.