A displaced Yemeni girl from Hodeida province living with her family in a destroyed house affected by the war stands by a damaged wall in the province of Taez, on September 30, 2018.(Xinhua/AFP)
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for concerted efforts to help 600 million adolescent girls across the world realize their full potential.
There are "multiple barriers" including "systemic discrimination" bias and lack of training, which are keeping the largest generation of girls in human history from reaching their full potential, said Guterres in a statement, marking the International Day of the Girl Child.
Noting "far too often, girls are not given the space and opportunities they need to achieve their full potential," he said that today, 600 million adolescent girls are preparing to enter a workforce, "transformed by innovation and automation," in which female college graduates and workers are outnumbered.
Women make up less than 30 percent of graduates in information and technology and occupy less than 30 percent of research and development jobs globally.
"Negative gender stereotypes related to girls' education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics begin as early as primary school, and have the devastating effect of making them doubt their own potential," he said.
The UN chief underscored the importance of equipping youth with skills transferable for lifelong success, noting that abilities such as critical thinking, creativity, and digital awareness will shine through in a changing workforce.
Highlighting the value of a support system, he said that having role models in fields where the presence of women is sparse, is key, and referenced the recent launch of Youth2030 in September, a strategy aimed at understanding youth needs, and supporting them in materializing their ideas.
"Let us recommit to supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential," said the secretary-general.
On Dec. 19, 2011, the UN General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting Oct. 11, 2012 as the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child.