Today, the Australian Government reaffirms its commitment to empowering girls and young women in our region to reach their full potential.

“Girls continue to face formidable challenges including forced early marriage, gender based violence and limited access to education and reproductive health services. Investing in gender equality is beneficial to communities and smart economics.  Empowering women and girls stimulates economic growth and promotes stability in our region,” Minister Fierravanti-Wells said.

The theme of this year’s Day of the Girl child focuses on closing existing gaps in data on girls and young women. Better data on the challenges faced by young women will enable the Government to advance gender equality.

When women and girls can participate actively in the economy and in community decision-making, everybody benefits. An increase of only one per cent in girls’ secondary education attendance add 0.3%  to a country’s GDP and an extra year of a mother’s schooling cuts infant mortality by 15-25%.

In September, I launched the Gender Action Platform (GAP), a competitive grants program for non-government organisations (NGOs) promoting gender equality for women and girls in the Indo-Pacific region. The Australian Government’s $10 million investment in the GAP will enable NGOs accredited under the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to develop and implement projects that empower and improve outcomes for women and girls.

Women’s empowerment has been prioritised in our foreign policy agenda and aid program.   Research has shown global gross domestic product could rise by as much as two per cent, or US$1.5 trillion, if women and men entrepreneurs could participate equally in the economy.

Recent studies by Plan International Australia and Our Watch today to mark the International Day of the Girl show that only one in ten girls in Australia feel that they have gender equality and equal opportunities with their male counterparts.

“This is disappointing given that over the past 15 years, the global community has made significant progress in improving the lives of girls. Today we acknowledge these achievements while recommitting ourselves to the task of ensuring this generation and the next truly fulfil their potential,”  Minister  Fierravanti-Wells said.

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