Today is International Day of the Girl Child. This years theme is. “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being.”

The theme focuses on taking action to curtail girls and women’s rights and gain progress on gender equality. At a time when we are seeing a range of movements and actions to curtail girls’ and women’s rights and roll back progress on gender equality, we see particularly harsh impacts on girls. From maternal health care and parenting support for adolescent mothers, to digital and life skills training; from comprehensive sexuality education to survivor support services and violence prevention programmes; there is an urgent need for increased attention and resourcing for the key areas that enable girls to realize their rights and achieve their full potential.

As a country, we need to give girls an opportunity to lead by putting them at the forefront of change efforts; hearing their voices; responding to their questions; and welcoming them in decision-making spaces. This way, we will invest in a future that believes in girls’ agency. Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities.

As entrepreneurs, innovators, and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations. Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 SDG goals. If we ensure the rights of women and girls across all the SDG goals , we will get justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustain our shared environment now and for future generations.

The girl in rural Zimbabwe should be empowered to believe in herself, to say no to early marriages and sexual abuse. @PoliceZimbabwe should enforce laws that protect the girl child. Happy #DayOfTheGirl