“If we unleash the potential of the world’s girls and young women, we will unleash a powerful force that will bring lasting change to all corners of the globe.”
— Michelle Bachelet, undersecretary-general and executive director of U.N. Women
Thursday, October 11, marks the first-ever U.N. International Day of the Girl Child, a resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 19, 2011. The day was established to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.
The resolution “recognizes girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” It also promotes girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. Many organizations and dedicated girl activists have engaged in a longstanding campaign to gain recognition and reserve a day for advocacy and action by and for girls. This declaration reinforces the United Nations’ pledge to end the discrimination, economic inequality, violence, and gender stereotypes that overwhelmingly affect girls. The focus for the inaugural day is on ending the devastating practice of child marriage.
Here are some sobering facts about girls around the world:
- Every year, 10 million girls are forced or coerced into marriage.
- Globally, 1 in 3 girls is denied a secondary education.
- The leading cause of death for young women ages 15–19 in developing countries is pregnancy.
- It is estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under age 18 have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence.
But there are many reasons to celebrate:
- Thirty-one million more girls were enrolled in primary school in the past decade.
- An extra year of secondary school increases a girl’s potential income by 15 to 25 percent.
- Educated mothers invest more in their children’s schooling and are also likely to have fewer children.
What can you do to celebrate the power of girls today and every day? Here are four ways to show your support, do something, and join the conversation:
- Show your solidarity with a Day of the Girl twibbon, and follow the hashtag #DayoftheGirl on Twitter.
- Check out the Day of the Girl virtual summit, and find an event in your area.
- Learn about these other campaigns to educate girls, end child marriage, and empower girls, such as Girls Not Brides, Because I Am a Girl, The Girl Effect, and CARE.
- Find out more about legislation in the U.S. Congress, such as the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (H.R. 2103).
You can also learn about AAUW’s Community Action Grant projects that are connecting local and international advocacy.
Camp GirlForward provides educational and leadership opportunities to adolescent refugee girls ages 14–19 who have been resettled in Chicago from Bhutan, Iraq, Burundi, Congo, Sudan, and Burma. Through a specialized academic curriculum and regular enrichment activities, girls develop the English, math, computer, and leadership skills necessary to achieve their educational goals.
GlobalGirl Media Chicago
GlobalGirl Media develops the authentic voice and self-expression of teenage girls in underserved communities by training them to become citizen journalists and to harness the power of new digital media to inspire self-esteem, community activism, and social change. GGM empowers girls to make media that matters, improves media literacy, and encourages the promotion of healthier media messages about girls and women.
Help make the International Day of the Girl more than just a day — make it an ongoing movement to activate progress for girls around the world!