Investment in girls in developing countries - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for more investment to release the potential of over half a billion adolescent girls in developing countries, who are currently held back by poverty, discrimination and violence. Ban made the call at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying that 'investing in girls is key to achieving a crucial raft of development goals'.
He stated: 'The United Nations gives girls a gold rating. When you invest in their future, you are guaranteed results that multiply across society – on health, education, peace and the welfare of future generations.'
He also said that investing in girls was vital in the 'final push for success towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)'.
The UN chief noted that the MDGs, adopted by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000, aim to slash extreme hunger and poverty, boost access to health care and education, achieve gender equality and environmental stability, reduce maternal and child mortality and the incidence of HIV/AIDS, all by the end of 2015.
'We are in a race against time. The MDG deadline is just over 700 days away,' Ban warned.
'You understand that when we give a girl better health, education and well-being, we see results far beyond that individual. A girl is as valuable to our world as a tree is to a forest.
'When a tree grows up straight and strong, the whole environment benefits. When a girl grows up straight and strong, her family, her community and even her country can feel the positive effects,' he stated.
The secretary-general also noted that every year a girl stays in primary school boosts her eventual wages by up to 20 per cent, and women and girls reinvest the vast majority of their income – 90 per cent – back into their families.
He also said 'When female education goes up, so does economic growth. Today, I urge you to keep girls at the centre of all of your strategies.
'When we support girls, they reward society with enormous contributions in creativity, compassion and – yes – girl power,' he added.