Local October 12, 2023 | 9:53 am

Unicef ​​asks the Dominican Government for greater public investment for girls

Santo Domingo.- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern over the insufficient investment by the Dominican State in the education and well-being of girls, contributing to persistent gender inequality. UNICEF’s analysis reveals that in the Dominican Republic, 32% of girls enter early marriages, and 20% become mothers before turning 18.

In their examination of government programs and policies in 2021, UNICEF observed that 50.9% of funds, totaling RD$ 105.4 billion, were allocated to males, while 49.1%, equivalent to RD$ 101 billion, were directed towards females. Although this may not seem like a significant difference, UNICEF emphasizes that girls, due to their vulnerability and the long-lasting personal and social consequences they face from diverse experiences compared to boys, have fewer options and opportunities for their life goals. Consequently, UNICEF advocates for increased investment in public policies tailored to address these disparities.

Carlos Carrera, UNICEF’s representative in the Dominican Republic, emphasizes the need for more substantial investments in girls’ rights, stating, “You might think that 49% of public investment is enough, but it is not. Dominican girls need more investment in their rights. Given this, families, institutions, communities, and countries must go beyond reaffirming commitments; they must invest in the actions necessary for this change to become a reality.”

UNICEF underscores that girls are at a higher risk of exclusion from the education system, violence, harassment, abuse, discrimination, and teenage pregnancies.

Furthermore, UNICEF references its 2017 study on the Economic Impact of Child Marriage and Early Unions (MIUT) in the Dominican Republic, revealing the significant connection between child marriage, early unions, and the intergenerational perpetuation of poverty. Adolescents in such unions, it notes, often secure lower-quality jobs with lifetime earnings 17% lower than those of their male counterparts.

UNICEF asserts that implementing the public policies outlined in MIUT could potentially reduce the country’s poverty rate from 30.5% to 27.7% and decrease poverty in Dominican households by 10%.

On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, UNICEF reminds the Dominican Republic of its commitments under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention emphasizes the importance of investing in services and programs that enable girls and adolescents to complete their education, fulfill their potential, and explore alternative life paths beyond early unions and motherhood. It calls upon families and society at large to create safe environments that protect girls and adolescents from violence and provide them with access to quality healthcare and education.

Carlos Carrera concludes by stating, “Accelerating the country’s progress means focusing on the most vulnerable groups, which also includes girls and adolescents. They have much to contribute to their communities, but too often they are forgotten or completely excluded. It is the responsibility of states to invest differentially to change that. We have a firm commitment to work and support the state to improve conditions for these girls.”

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