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Marking the International Day of the Girl, UNFPA launches publication to highlight the strength of Syrian adolescent girls

10 October 2019


UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is pleased to announce the launch of  Unbroken, a publication that showcases the remarkable resilience and potential of adolescent girls surviving one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.

With the Syria crisis now in its ninth year, assessments from the field show that the situation for women and girls remains largely unchanged. Information collected by UNFPA and its partners in 2018 and 2019 shows that gender-based violence continues to plague the lives of Syrian women and girls throughout the region, with Syrian adolescent girls being particularly at risk. Information collected through focus groups and direct interviews with Syrian girls shows that they face a web of violence that follows them over the course of their lives, spanning restriction of movement, family violence, early and forced marriage, sexual violence, and others.

And yet, Syrian adolescent girls throughout the region continue to emerge from this crisis to demonstrate the resilience of the human heart, surviving and thriving where many seemingly stronger adults would falter. According to a recent assessment of UNFPA’s services region-wide, delivering programmes tailored specifically for adolescent girls continues to yield favorable results, providing a much-needed lifeline where usually no alternatives exist. This is particularly true in the case of services geared toward preventing and responding to gender-based violence, the risks of which increase considerably in the wake of humanitarian crises.

“In the effort to help the people of Syria rebuild their communities on stronger and more resilient foundations, targeting adolescent girls needs to become a core priority,” explains Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Deputy Regional Director for Arab States. “Humanitarians need to have a shared and long-term vision toward establishing a more girl-responsive humanitarian system, one that takes into consideration the needs, hopes and considerable potential of adolescent girls, and delivers programmes that not only address their basic needs but also helps them discover who they are as individuals and the contributions they can make to their communities. It is also of paramount importance that we as humanitarians continue to invest in programming that goes beyond the basic needs to tackle adolescent girls’ psychosocial development, autonomy, voice, and agency.”

Through Unbroken, UNFPA showcases the strength of Syrian girls whose lives were forever altered by the ongoing crisis but who have been able to persevere and pursue their dream of a better world. The stories featured in the publication not only demonstrate the remarkable strength of adolescent girls in the face of enormous odds, but also serve to underscore the importance of ensuring that their insights, needs and wants are consistently considered and incorporated into humanitarian and development responses.