The UN Adolescent Girls Task Force: Improving the Lives of Girls Everywhere


Guest Blogger – Tieneke vanLonkhuyzen is the Partnerships and Communications Manager at Nike Foundation. She previously served as Program Officer at the United Nations Foundation, focusing on girls’ and women’s issues. During her time at UN Foundation, Tieneke helped conceptualize, launch and implement Girl Up.

When I tell people I work for the United Nations Foundation, one of the most common questions I get is, “Do you work in the UN building?” I don’t. And in fact, many people who work for the United Nations work in office buildings other than the UN headquarters building located on the East River in New York City.

The UN is a large organization, with more than 150,000 employees in more than 170 countries around the world. The UN provides food to 108 million people in 74 countries; vaccinates 40 percent of the world’s children, saving 2 million lives a year; assists more than 34 million refugees fleeing war, hunger or persecution; helps save the lives of more than 30 million mothers every year; keeps peace with 116,000 peacekeepers in 17 operations on four continents; and combats climate change and leads a campaign to plant one billion trees a year.

The United Nations is able to do much of this work through special programs and UN agencies. These agencies are linked to the UN, but have been assigned to particular duties and areas of focus. Similarly to the way that we have different teachers for different subjects in high school and college, each UN agency covers a different topic and is full of experts in each area.

For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for all the world’s health efforts, including treating diseases, providing vaccines and improving the health of children and families throughout the world.

The UN Adolescent Girls Task Force is a group of six UN agencies working together that covers nearly all aspects of a girl’s life, including her education, health, right to live free from violence, leadership development, and economic opportunities. WHO is a member of this group. Learn more here.

Earlier this year, the Task Force issued a UN Joint Statement on Adolescent Girls pledging to increase their efforts to protect the rights of adolescent girls. They would do this through a 5-year plan that will strengthen their agencies’ programs and activities improving the lives of adolescent girls in developing countries.