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UNFPA launches strategy for Syrian adolescent girls

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Nov 30,2017 - Last updated at Dec 06,2017

The UNFPA strategy is launched within the framework of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which kicked off on Saturday (Photo courtesy of UNICEF)

AMMAN — The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Tuesday launched its strategy to address the needs of adolescent girls in the Whole of Syria (WoS), with the aim of strengthening and expanding the existing programmes targeting the needs of Syrian refugee girls. 

The strategy, launched in Amman, builds on the findings and consultations held by the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Area of Responsibility (AoR) and the Reproductive Health (RH) working groups of the WoS, according to the strategy report. 

Nadine Cornier, head of office and humanitarian adviser at UNFPA, presented the four primary objectives of the strategy, derived from a consultation held in November 2011 by the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. 

“Our first objective is to generate knowledge, data and evidence on the needs of adolescent girls to inform programme design,  track progress and document lessons,” said Cornier, stressing that “globally, most humanitarian funding, programming and policy strategies do not target adolescent girls specifically, but rather they are grouped with women or children”.

“Promoting holistic adolescent-friendly RH and specialised GBV services to address the needs of adolescent girls” is the second of the objectives, established after several consultations with service providers revealed an urgent need to address the attitude of service providers towards adolescent girls. 

“The third objective is to increase adolescent girls’ access to appropriate reproductive health services, GBV specialised services and empowerment activities — while the fourth is to engage with other actors to ensure that needs and considerations of adolescent girls are part of the response,” Cornier continued. 

“Even in the current context, Syrian adolescent girls are resourceful and resilient, so instead of seeing them as victims, we shall start seeing them as people who need support but can still support themselves, and we shall give them a voice,” the official expressed. 

During the launching event, UNFPA Syria regional humanitarian coordinator, Daniel Baker, noted that the strategy is being launched within the framework of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which kicked off on November 25.

“When the resistance of a family collapses in a context of conflict, they look at the marriage of their young daughters as a way to protect them and release the family of the economic burden without realising that they will end up being abused and suffer from early pregnancy,” the official pointed out, expressing his hopes for the strategy “to bring partners together and bring back hope for these girls”.

For his part, Deputy Regional Director of UNFPA Karen Dadyryan, told The Jordan Times that “at the regional level, UNFPA is addressing its partners in the civil society to delay the marriage of young girls”, noting that “the objective is to end GBV and other forms of harmful practices towards young girls  such as female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030”.

The RH and GBV and Youth coordination bodies of the WoS in Damascus, Amman and Gaziantep will lead the implementation of the strategy, and consultations will be held by an adolescent girl steering group to discuss ongoing efforts and preview future plans for implementation. 

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