A 10 Year Old Girl Is the Future! #weare10 #genderinequity #girlpower


We are 10!

Whether we live in developing or developed countries, cities, villages or refugee camps, or come from rich or poor households, we all have hopes and dreams for the future. But, we will face different challenges on our journey to adulthood.

Take a glimpse into our lives and aspirations.

She is 10 years old. Capable of rapidly absorbing wisdom and knowledge from those around her, she is poised to one day become an inspiring leader, a productive worker, an innovator, a caring parent or any of the other roles that power a thriving, dynamic society. She will shape the future of her community and our shared world.

A flurry of life-changing events pulls her in many directions. Where she ends up depends on the support she receives and the power she has to shape her own future.

At 10, a girl arrives at a vulnerable point in her life. She must negotiate a tricky transition to adulthood, with its rapid changes in body and brain, and dramatic shifts in family and social expectations. Although risks abound for both girls and boys, gender discrimination makes these worse for girls in almost every way.  Public policies often focus on young children or older adolescents, failing to adequately manage the potential risks 10-year-old girls might face.

If her rights are not well protected, through appropriate laws, services and investments, the chance to bloom in adolescence and become a fully fledged adult forever slips away.

The world has already done well in many ways for the 10-year-old boy. It is past time to do equally well for the 10-year-old girl.

The lives of 10-year-olds today
Almost six in 10 girls live in countries where gender norms and practices place them at a significant disadvantage, both at their current 10 years of age and as they grow older. Relative to their brothers, these girls are less likely to stay in school, more likely to be engaged in child labour, more likely to be married before they turn 18, more likely to experience intimate partner violence, more likely to suffer from complications related to pregnancy and childbearing, and less likely to have a substantive say in household decisions, including about their schooling or health care. The implications of these patterns for such girls may be profound, with further impacts that extend to families, communities and even countries.

Picture a new world for the 10-year-old girl
Picture the 10-year-old girl in a world that truly values, nurtures and protects her. Instead of contracting, her options expand and diversify. In this world, people have agreed that her human rights in their entirety must be upheld, just as they are for her brother, and this is reflected in laws and legal practice as well as social norms. No one thinks she is ready for marriage or childbearing until she is at least 18. No one expects her to abandon school for paid work or household chores. She goes to a good school that is clean, safe and close to her home. She has enough nourishing food for her growing body and developing brain.   She is protected and has the same opportunities as boys to explore the world around her, make friends and participate freely in social interactions.


Photo © UNFPA/Santosh Chhetri

Transforming Our World

In 2015, the world made an unprecedented commitment to people, prosperity and the planet. The historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, endorsed by over 150 world leaders, aims to end all forms of poverty and discrimination. It seeks to transform how we live, where all people enjoy rights and dignity.

UNFPA is already playing a leadership role on Goals related to poverty, health, education and gender equality. Attaining the Goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health services supports the freedom of every girl and woman to seek an education, find decent work and contribute even more to her family, community and nation.

  • 1. No Poverty

    The first Goal commits to halving the share of people of all ages who suffer any of the major dimensions of poverty.

    UNFPA supports sexual and reproductive health services that help girls expand their economic options.

  • 3. Good HealthAnd Well-Being

    The third Goal commits to reducing global maternal death to less than 70 per 100,000 births.

    UNFPA helps countries develop public policies and services that keep girls healthy.

  • 4. Quality Education

    The fourth Goal calls for ensuring, by 2030, that education is free, equitable and of high quality.

    UNFPA works with countries to promote investments in education and opportunities for girls.

  • 5. Gender Equality

    The fifth Goal seeks to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls. Violence against them must stop.

    UNFPA works to eliminate harmful practices and their consequences.

An estimated 125 million 10-year-olds are alive today. Of these, just over 60 million are girls, and 65 million are boys.

Where are today’s 10-year-olds?
The typical 10-year-old today lives in a developing country. Almost 9 in 10 of them— 89 per cent—live in less developed regions of the world, with half in Asia and the Pacific, including China and India. One in five lives in the 48 countries defined by the United Nations as least developed (34 in sub-Saharan Africa, 13 in Asia and the Pacific, and one in Latin America and the Caribbean), where the challenges to the fulfilment of their potential are the greatest and the institutions to support them are the weakest.

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