The sixth International Day of the Girl Child Conference will be held with the support of UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women; as well as the Aydın Doğan Foundation. The conference will discuss the future of youth in an age of pandemics and climate change.Young climate activist Luisa Neubauer, the main speaker of the conference, will call out a message of “not a single year to lose!” from the sixth International Day of the Girl Child Conference.
The International Day of the Girl Child Conference, held every October 11th in Turkey for the past five years with the aim of allowing all girl children reach their full potential in life, will this year be held online due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. The conference will include a diverse range of participants including celebrities, experts and young people; who will discuss new risks and potentials for youth, brought about by the rapidly changing world of this decade. The conference will focus on the roles girls can assume as agents of change under these difficult conditions.
The main talk, chaired by actress Hazal Kaya, also the UNFPA ambassador for Turkey, will have young climate activist Luisa Neubauer as its main guest. Neubauer has gained global attention with her climate activism and striking commentary. The seeds of activism were sown with Luisa when she was just 13, after she watched a lesson on the effects of the greenhouse effect. Her message is simple: “The world has to experience unprecedented change under every condition. We don’t have a single year to waste!” She will share her messages this time, at the International Day of the Girl Child Conference. Young people who worked on climate change and pandemic-related issues since this July, will also share their visions for the world with brief video messages.
Youth of the world will discuss the future at an age of pandemic and climate change.
The conference will also host two extra discussion sessions. The first, entitled “How do the Pandemic and Climate Change Influence Girl Children?” will be chaired by journalist Melis Alphan; and will host Betül Kaçar, an astrobiologist working at NASA; Dr. Betül Ulukol, a social paediatrician teaching at Turkey’s Ankara University; Dr. Amber Fletcher, a sociologist studying the effects of gender and social injustice on the climate change experience; and photographer Annie Griffiths, known for her work on women’s empowerment and for her photographs on National Geographic. The attendants will all share their experiences with the audience.
The second panel will be titled “The World We Imagine: Youth Discuss How the Want to Change the World”. Moderated by celebrity anchor Gözde Atasoy, the discussion will host Şeyma Nur Sağınç, a celebrated NGO activist and the holder of the Aydın Doğan Foundation grant for outstanding academic performance, who was born the youngest of six children to a family in Turkey’s Van Province; Selin Gören, a nineteen-year-old activist and student who works as part of the Fridays for Future Turkey initiative; Dağlar Çilingir, an education and health coordinator for Turkey’s Young Approaches to Health Organisation; and Muhammet Aktaş, a project coordinator working with Turkey’s Children’s Rights Volunteers Association.
Vuslat Doğan Sabancı: “Women and girls bear the brunt of the global pandemic.”
Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, Vice Chair of the Board for the Aydın Doğan Foundation, remarked that conditions of limited mobility and social isolation during the pandemic contributed to the deepening of social and economic tensions; and said: “The Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the entire world since the beginning of 2020, has led to a humanitarian crisis and a development crisis, especially for disadvantaged groups such as people living in conflict zones, individuals with disabilities, refugees, immigrants and the poor ones. The multidimensional economic impact of the global crisis is increasingly being felt by women and girls - who earn less, save less, and work in unsecured jobs - often living close to the poverty line.”
“Children and youth must step up and voice their opinions”
Vuslat Doğan Sabancı remarked that climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing the world today and said; “The World Bank predicts that by 2030, climate change could push over 100 million people into poverty. As it affects ecosystems and agriculture, the consequences of climate change will put an enormous burden on poor women and girls working in agriculture in many parts of the world. The aim of the International Day of the Girl Child 2020 Conference is to mobilise children and young people in order for them to have a say in their own futures and to play a leading role in addressing crises such as global epidemics and climate change.”
Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey also stated that; “The International Day of the Girl aims to highlight the challenges girls face, and to promote girls' empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. 2020 marks the sixth year that UNICEF commemorates in Turkey this important day in collaboration with Aydın Doğan Foundation, UNFPA, and UN Women. We come together to recognize the crucial contribution that girls and young women make to our society, which is especially important in times like these, as we face the urgent challenges of climate change and a global pandemic. We call on every woman, man, girl and boy, to join the discussions on this important occasion, and to celebrate and empower girls so that they may realize their full potential and contribute to the development of solutions to these pressing global problems.”
Zeynep Başarankut Kan, UNFPA Turkey Assistant Representative stated that; “People, planet, prosperity and the pandemic. The COVID-19 global outbreak has clearly demonstrated that if we care for humanity and its welfare, we have to care for the environment. Women and girls stand right in the center of this interlaced structure: as the most affected - by increased domestic responsibilities, gender-based violence, poverty and exposure to outbreaks and natural hazards; but also as accelerators of change that can strengthen resilience of communities, support prevention of diseases and help preservation of the nature. This can only be done by promoting gender equality, at home, at work, at land... UNFPA will continue to support women and girls (including those who are refugees, seasonal migrant workers, living with disabilities, facing gender-based violence and child marriages) to improve their health and well-being and to empower them to transform their environments, for a better future. UNFPA will leave no one behind."
Commenting on the conference and the issues it addresses, Asya Varbanova, the Country Director of UN Women Turkey, said; “The COVID-19 pandemic has one more time proved to us that crisis and conflicts exacerbate already existing gender inequalities. Women and girls face greater health and safety risks and are being hit harder from the economic and social effects of the crisis. Despite these challenges, around the world young women are harnessing their expertise and networks in building back more equal, unified and resilient societies for all. We need their leadership, creativity and commitment in both responding crises like pandemics and climate crisis and in working to address the systemic inequalities they have exposed.”