Barbados and countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States are being called on to work alongside all girls to expand learning opportunities, chart new pathways and rethink how to prepare them for a successful transition into the world of work.
This is as the region joins the global community in observing 11 October as International Day of the Girl. Under the theme, “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force”, International Day of the Girl marks the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.
United Nations agencies joining in observing the day say while most girls in Barbados and the OECS are going to school and staying in school, too many are still not getting the knowledge, skills and work habits necessary for lifelong success.
UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the OECS (A.i.) Dr Godfrey Xuereb said: “In order to address the challenges, the UN agencies are recommending that countries deliver large-scale public and private sector programming for girls’ education, skills and market-adapted training; improve the quality and relevance of teaching and learning to enable girls to develop the foundational, transferable and job specific skills needed for life and work; and increase girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning.”
The UN RC also called on countries to: ‘Challenge stereotypes, social norms and change unconscious bias in relation to gender roles to enable girls to have the same learning and career opportunities as boys; empower, motivate, encourage and create the space for girls and young women to consider careers in the growing digital world of work; and to create initiatives to support girls’ school-to-work transition, such as career guidance, apprenticeships, internships and entrepreneurship education.’
Of the 1 billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the global workforce in the next decade, more than 90 per cent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.
Young women are often found in the most marginalized segments of the informal economy with fewer assets, greater risks and lower income. The most disadvantaged girls – those in rural areas and humanitarian settings, and those with disabilities – have even less access to decent work.