Today's generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed nor in education nor training.
Of the 1 billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector - jobs that are not regulated or protected – where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common. The most disadvantaged girls — including those in rural areas and those with disabilities — have even less access to decent work.
Right now, many girls are not developing the skills they need later to secure decent work. Every year, 12 million girls are married globally before the age of 18, depriving them of their rights to education, health and a life of their choosing. Jharkhand has third highest prevalence of child marriage in the country (38% NFHS 4).
Evidence shows that girls who attend secondary school are three times less likely to be married before 18 years of age. They also have better economic prospects, fewer and healthier children, and are more likely to ensure that their own children are not married. Empowerment of girls by engaging boys and men as well in this process will be beneficial in ending child marriage.
Dr. Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of UNICEF Jharkhand Office says, “To end child marriage we must give girls the access to opportunities by creating an enabling environment and providing tools empowering them to be able to make decisions affecting their lives. That means providing them with the quality education and training they need to earn an income and create a better future for themselves and their family. It is also critical to strengthen the child protection structures to create a protective environment for the girls.”
Transferable skills – such as self-confidence, problem-solving, teamwork and critical thinking – are critical to succeed in the rapidly changing world of work, yet many schools do not focus on these “21st-century skills,” including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.
Many girls do not have access to mentors, career guidance or the training they need to transition from school to work, and those who are entrepreneurs face barriers accessing finance or business skills.
Girls’ full participation in the future workforce requires tackling gender stereotypes across professions and addressing the many systemic barriers to decent work they face.
The world’s 600 million adolescent girls each have the strength, creativity and energy to meet global industry demands. For girls to gain access to the skills they need, they are relying on the global community to join with them. On 11 October, International Day of the Girl, UNICEF is calling on the global community to rethink how to prepare them for a successful transition into the world of work.
To develop A Skilled GirlForce, the global community should:
• Rapidly expand access to inclusive education and training.
• Improve the quality and gender-responsiveness of teaching and learning to enable girls to develop foundational, transferable and job-specific skills for life and work.
• Create inclusive and accessible schools, training and learning opportunities to empower girls with disabilities.
• Change gender stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias to provide girls with the same learning and career opportunities as boys.
• Increase girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning.
• Create initiatives to support girls’ school-to-work transition, such as career guidance, apprenticeships, internships and entrepreneurship.
• Deliver large-scale public and private sector programming for girls’ skills and market-adapted training.
• Enable access to finance and enterprise development for female entrepreneurs.
• Form strategic partnerships with governments and private companies which can act as thought leaders and financiers, helping to train girls and bring them into the workforce.
On International Day of the Girl, let’s stand with her to develop skills now and remove other gender barriers she faces so that she and every girl can join A Skilled GirlForce.