UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The international community must invest in women and girls despite hard economic times, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.
Ban, in a new report, said even small investments in gender equality yield big results in ensuring basic human rights threatened by poverty, CNN reported.
"Abuse, exploitation and violence continue to affect millions of girls, despite progress to protect them," the report said. "The United Nations study on violence against children estimates that 150 million girls ... under 18 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact."
The U.N. secretary-general said investing in and ensuring human rights for women and girls is both a legal and moral obligation, and likely would prevent inter-generational poverty, CNN reported.
The investment pays off in high economic and societal returns, Ban said.
"Maintaining national commitments to children and women and enhancing social protection will not only help to ensure a more rapid recovery from the (financial) crisis but will also build a foundation for equitable growth and sustained progress" toward goals to reduce poverty, hunger and other ills by 2015, he said.