Date: October 12, 2017
Location: Serena Hotel, Islamabad
Remarks as prepared.
Assalamu Alaikum and Good Morning.
It is a pleasure to celebrate with you the International Day of the Girl Child.
The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a source of power, energy, and creativity – and the girls sitting here today represent the future of Pakistan.
The UN Resolution that created the International Day of the Girl Child states, “Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights.”
Enabling women and girls is a matter of human rights. It is also a matter of development. The economic return on investment in gender equality and women’s enablement are clear; when more women participate and are financially strengthened, benefits are felt throughout society.
Long-term social prosperity should be built on access to education, healthcare, and technology for all, including women and girls. When girls are educated, they can build better futures for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries. The higher the rate girls are enrolled in secondary schools, the lower the rates of birth, infant mortality, and child malnutrition.
Those are the reasons why the United States government invests heavily in educating and enabling girls. Through the Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program, the American people have worked with Pakistani NGOs to improve the lives of over a million Pakistani women.
The SABA Homes School, now under construction in Rawalpindi, is a visible and tangible example of the results produced by just one of the 300 grants awarded under our Small Grants Program since it began in 2010. This school is being built through the shared commitment of the Embassy and the SABA Aslam Education and Welfare Trust.
This grant goes beyond bricks and mortar. It is creating a promising future for Pakistani orphans and young girls by providing them access to high-quality education.
I would like to acknowledge the efforts of philanthropists like Mr. [SAH-gheer] Aslam, whose hard work and dedication contributed to projects, including the SABA Homes School, to educate so many children.
I would also like to commend the teams of Anjuman [Noja-Vanan] Charsadda and CEENA Health and Welfare Services. The presentation of the Pakistani national anthem in sign language and the tableau performance of Allama Iqbal’s poem [“Lahb-Peh Ati-Hai Du-ah”] were inspiring and touching.
I also would like to thank the Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund team and its partner organizations for making it possible for so many girls to attend school and embark on the path to a rewarding life.
Let us resolve to continue working together toward a world where all girls are afforded the rights and respect they deserve, where they have the tools for success, and where all families, communities, and countries experience the transformation wrought by a girl who has behind her the investments and equal treatment she deserves.