Promoting Girl Child Rights in Somalia: Collaborative Initiative by UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, and Government to Improve the Well-being of Somali Women and Girls
On October 11, 2023, a significant event took place in Mogadishu, Somalia. Officials from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Federal Government of Somalia, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined forces to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child. The purpose of the event was to bring attention to the rights and potential of Somali girls, emphasizing the importance of empowering them.
The event gathered more than 200 participants, including government leaders, UN representatives, youth activists, civil society groups, community elders, journalists, and development partners, in Mogadishu. During the opening remarks, Deputy Minister Abdihakim Jimale Aden reaffirmed the government’s strong commitment to addressing critical human rights issues affecting Somali girls, such as child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), and limited access to education. Aden stressed the need to create an environment where every girl has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve her aspirations without discrimination or harm.
NiyiOjuolape, the UNFPA Somalia Representative, emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts and increased investment in various sectors to break the cycle of gender inequality. Ojuolape highlighted that empowering girls has a positive impact not only on themselves but on their entire community. Access to health services, education, and opportunities are crucial for their empowerment, and it is not only the right thing to do morally but also a practical economic decision that contributes to national development.
The event also served as the official launch of the “Healthier Somali Women and Girls” project, an innovative initiative aimed at improving access to quality maternal and newborn healthcare in Somalia. This $2.7 million project, funded by USAID and implemented by UNFPA, will strengthen maternal and child health services in marginalized communities in the Southern and Central regions of Somalia. USAID Mission Director Sheri-Nouane Duncan-Jones emphasized that targeted investments and interventions can make a significant difference in the lives of Somali women, newborns, and infants.
Wafaa Abdelatef, the UNICEF Somalia Representative, stressed the importance of listening to girls themselves to understand their unique experiences, aspirations, and ideas for positive change. Abdelatef called for a participatory approach in addressing the well-being of women and girls.
The event featured lively cultural performances and urgent calls to action, shining a spotlight on the urgent need to increase targeted investments in the health, education, protection, and empowerment of Somali girls. By unlocking their potential, Somali girls can play a transformative role in national progress.