International Day of the Girl Child, which takes place on 11 October, recognises the challenges girls face around the world, such as barriers to accessing education and healthcare, including sexual and reproductive medical support.
Tying in with this year’s theme - empowering adolescent girls: ending the cycle of violence – we’re focusing on the work of our partner the Women’s Christian Union (or UCF) in Angola, a country that has suffered from conflict, where girls and women are still fighting for basic rights.
‘There are women who are capable of ruling a country!'
What we’re doing
UCF runs a programme called Girls Building Bridges which teaches life skills, including classes on preventing HIV and underage pregnancies.
Each year 60 teenage girls and young women pass through the programme. Lessons promote greater self-esteem and assertiveness as well as teaching practical skills, including IT and English.
The classes aim to prepare the girls to deal with the many challenges that lie ahead, especially in an environment where girls and women face violence and discrimination in and outside their households.
One of the key messages to the girls is that they have a vital role to play in Angola’s development.
Elvira João Miguel (known as Vivi) took part in the Girls Building Bridges programme in 2012
‘Before a woman couldn’t make any decisions,’ says Vivi, 22. ‘It was only the men who made decisions. Now women are visible in society. There are women who are capable of ruling a country!’
Young women leaders
Hearing the voices of girls is vital when it comes to making decisions around development. The girls from Girls Building Bridges contributed to our report, The World We Want to See, which looks beyond the Millennium Development Goals to the kind of world we can envisage in 10 or 20 years’ time.
The girls identified the economic empowerment of women, universal primary education and readily accessible services on reproductive and sexual health as three things they would like to see in a post-2015 development agenda.
Another of our partners helping to nurture the women leaders of tomorrow is the World YWCA. One of our projects provided mentoring and support for young women to participate in the 20th Africa Union summit to directly lobby for what young women want from the post-2015 development goals.
Find out more
Discover more of our work on gender justice.