Nine Plan International-supported girls invited to the United Nations to witness the approval of the goals said their futures depended on governments meeting the promises in the SDGs to protect them from violence, to improve healthcare, to combat hunger, to treat them equally to boys and to give them a quality education so they can realise their potential.
“Now I have a great opportunity to change things in Pakistan,” said Sana, 17, a Pakistani youth advocate sponsored by Plan International. “I want there to be an end to child marriage and more education for girls. I want to be a lawyer when the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved.”
Leaving no one behind
The 17 SDGs comprise 169 targets in an integrated development package that applies to all countries and sets out to achieve poverty eradication, shared prosperity and planetary sustainability.
The SDGs repeatedly stress the importance of “leaving no one behind”. Gender equality, empowerment of women and girls and fulfilment of their human rights, also play a key role in the goals.
But mechanisms for tracking the implementation of the goals and holding governments to account are not as robust as Plan International and others sought, leading to doubts the SDGs will deliver on their promise.
“Boys are used to having first priority when it comes to rights,” said Jacinta, 16, from Kenya. “In some communities in Kenya girls are treated well, but not all are given the same opportunities as boys.”
The power of girls
"This generation could see an end to extreme poverty in its lifetime, if the SDGs are implemented as planned. That would be an amazing accomplishment,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.
“It's right that we celebrate the launch of the SDGs, for what they promise to children and girls in particular. But to deliver our promise to girls, all stakeholders must focus on gender gaps and put girls first when designing SDG implementation strategies,” added Ms Albrectsen.
This generation could see an end to extreme poverty in its lifetime, if the SDGs are implemented as planned
“My hope for girls is to be as one. Act as one group. Even if we’re coming from different countries I want us to say to the world that we need to be listened to about our rights,” said Nurfahada, 16, from the Philippines.
As well as speaking out, the 9 girl advocates will be sharing a list of priority actions governments can take towards implementing the SDG targets that are most relevant to adolescent girls.
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