The Whistler Declaration on Unlocking the Power of Adolescent Girls for Sustainable Development

Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is an objective in and of itself. It is also essential for contributing to effectively and sustainably eradicating poverty worldwide and must begin before negative gender and cultural norms and attitudes are learned.  We must approach the rights and needs of girls and women in an integrated way, across their life-cycles, from infancy to adulthood to old age. While adolescence represents a critical and promising period that can propel girls forward as agents of change, the specific needs of adolescent girls remain largely unmet.

Developing countries are experiencing a youth surge with the number of adolescents and young people at an all-time high. If adolescent girls’ human rights are upheld, and if given the tools and opportunities to fulfill their potential, they will contribute to poverty eradication and foster social transformation and inclusive economic growth. When countries invest in adolescent girls, they invest in a demographic dividend that will benefit them for decades to come. However, discrimination and ingrained social biases- which can be exacerbated in humanitarian, fragile and conflict settings- continue to limit their decision-making and their participation in their polities, economies and societies.

Unlocking the potential of a generation of adolescent girls will be essential to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda, contributing to peace, prosperity and equality. When empowered with the knowledge, skills, social networks, opportunities and services to succeed in life, and make informed choices, adolescent girls tend to marry later, bear children later, and have better health and economic outcomes for themselves leading to stronger, inclusive and more prosperous countries.

The G7 Ministers responsible for humanitarian action and development assistance will:

  • Adopt integrated approaches to our support for adolescent girls, including in humanitarian, fragile and conflict settings, to address the multiple barriers to empowerment, inclusion and opportunity, including:
    • accessing and fulfilling their human rights;
    • equally and fully participating in their societies while ensuring that their voices are taken into account;
    • providing opportunities for girls and women to access and complete at least 12 years of safe, quality, inclusive, equitable education, from their early years through to the end of secondary, leading to improved learning outcomes, including demand-led technical and vocational education and training;
    • preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence including child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, violence in schools, and sexual exploitation and abuse;
    • promoting and protecting adolescent health and well-being, through evidence-based health care and health information;
    • ensuring that adolescent girls benefit from healthy diets and micronutrients required to support their development;
    • supporting access to appropriate sanitation and hygiene products and services;
    • ensuring approaches, policies and services are accessible to adolescent girls with disabilities and promote their participation in society; and
    • supporting families to address financial barriers for the poorest adolescent girls to complete their schooling, leading to enhanced outcomes, including on poverty, hunger, education, health, preventing violence, and economic empowerment.
  • Promote and pilot integrated approaches that support the rights and needs of adolescent girls across a number of sectors including health and nutrition, education, sexual and gender based violence, and leadership and also support transition to decent work with equal pay.
  • Advocate for and invest in girls’ voices and leadership potential, including through funding of women and youth-led organisations.
  • Collaborate with parents and families, communities and institutions (including civil society, private sector, traditional and religious leaders and faith-based organizations, women’s and children’s rights and youth-led organizations) and men and boys to confront discrimination and social and institutional barriers that prevent adolescent girls from realizing their rights and inhibit progress across all areas of development.
  • Work with developing country partners, including women’s and girls’ led organizations, to ensure that the needs and rights of adolescent girls, including from indigenous communities, are fully integrated into national policies and public services.
  • Work with governments, the International Financial Institutions, the United Nations and civil society to strengthen and centralize data and accountability systems to ensure that interventions are based on evidence and report on investments targeting adolescent girls, including the collection, use and dissemination of data disaggregated by age and sex and, as appropriate, by other identity factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental and physical disability.