World Economic Forum


Advocates push for Girl Empowerment in Davos

23 January, 2014 | Davos, Switzerland - At a luncheon event themed “Scaling Up Success: Investing in Girls’ Empowerment for MDG Acceleration”, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN officials joined members of the MDG Advocacy Group and leaders from government, the private sector, and civil society to highlight the importance of investing in the rights and well-being of adolescent girls.

With a little more than 700 days left until the target date for the Millennium Development Goals, the event which took place on the side of the World Economic Forum, was an opportunity for this cross-sectoral group to highlight specific approaches that enable girls and women worldwide to learn, earn, thrive, and control their own destinies.

The discussion at the luncheon was focused around:

  • replicating and scaling-up successful quality programmes;
  • promoting innovative approaches including quick adoption of broadband and ICTs for education and health; and
  • encouraging collaboration to ensure the best outcomes for girls and their communities.

In his opening statement, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of investing in girls, calling it “the single most powerful investment for development.” He went on to say, “When we support girls, they reward society with enormous contributions in creativity, compassion and – yes – girl power.”

“We are in a race against time. The MDG deadline is just over 700 days away,” the Secretary-General warned, urging participants to “take stock and make a final push for success”. He went on further to underscore the gains made from investing in girls saying, “every year that a girl stays in primary school boosts her eventual wages by up to 20 per cent. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest the vast majority – 90 per cent – back into their families. When female education goes up, so does economic growth.”

Joining the Secretary-General at the event as co-chairs, were President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Prime Minster Erna Solberg of Norway. There were also interventions from other governments, business and media leaders including Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation, Ambassador Dho Young-shim, Philippe Douste-Blazy, and Jeffrey Sachs, who joined in an intergenerational dialogue with Hannah Godefa, UNICEF National Ambassador for Ethiopia, and Sumaya Saluja, Youth Advocacy Group, Global Education First Initiative.

Ray Chambers from the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria, used the opportunity to launch a new plan for MDG 4. Participants at the event signed the Girl Declaration, expressing their support for the voices of girls to be included in the next development framework, which will replace the MDGs in 2015.