Investing in girls’ education and skills is foundational to strengthening economies

Investing in girls’ education and skills is foundational to strengthening economies

TASHKENT, 8 March 2024– On International Women’s Day, UNICEF has called for investment in girl’s education, empowerment and providing equal employment opportunities for young women   including for those with disabilities, as foundational and imperative for Uzbekistan’s prosperity. 

This year’s theme “Invest in women: Accelerate progress” recognizes that tangible investment in girls and women are often catalytic, sparking positive change across all levels of society and leading to strengthened economies.

Globally, simple measures such as bursaries for girls and young women have proven transformational to both local and national economies.  Further, research has shown that enhanced social protection for girls from low-income families and support in receiving concessionary loans on higher education for women is key and in the medium term contributes to more stable, resilient societies.

Uzbekistan has achieved a lot for girls and women through increased women’s political participation, access to higher education, initiatives promoting women’s empowerment and economic participation, progressive legislation strengthening women’s rights. However, much remains to be done in terms of tangible investments, funded and costed initiatives that create equal opportunities,  enforce existing laws that protect women’s rights, addressing negative gender stereotypes, empowering women in leadership roles and increasing access to quality healthcare and essential services for women.

Recent evidence demonstrates that the share of women in engineering, manufacturing, construction, and ICT programmes is a mere 17%.  Meanwhile the share of women and men working in STEM fields, specifically researchers in natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences, agriculture and veterinary sciences is 37%.[1]

“In UNICEF we know that deliberate or even affirmative investments torwards girls and young women are foundational for building stronger societies and economies,” said Geoffrey Ijumba,  UNICEF’s Acting Representative in Uzbekistan” Here in Uzbekistan our advocacy and programme in the area of ensuring girls are in STEM is  beginning to yield results  and these are results that will be felt by the  country for  a  long time.”

While there are huge efforts by government to empower girls and women, for instance through providing equal opportunities in primary and secondary education and recent legislative amendments to criminalize domestic violence, harmful social norms, structures and stereotypes that perpetuate inequality still persist and influence the division of labour, priorities and focus at home, in education, at the workplace and in society. Furthermore, women and girls bear the brunt of unpaid care work within families.

Therefore, UNICEF calls on the following key tenets and investments:

  • Increased investment in quality and inclusive education for girls and young women;
  • Investments in non-formal education, technical, innovation and entrepreneurial skills with the focus on vulnerable girls and young women including residing in remote rural areas, youth from low-income families, young people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
  • Increased investment for girls to participate in STEM fields and other competitive sectors.
  • Expanded Social Protection programmes that reach vulnerable girls, women including single parents with financial support.
  • Promoting women’s stronger participation in economic and public spheres.
  • Social Behaviour Change campaigns to address harmful norms structures and stereotypes that perpetuate inequality and barriers of opportunities for women in education, at the workplace and in society.
  • Investment into ICT and assistive technologies for girls and women disabilities to enable inclusive learning opportunities, enhance employability and promote entrepreneurship.


[1]  Data by country / Gender in STEM – Home (

For more information, please contact: 



Read More