In 2011, October 11 was officially declared International Day of the Girl Child by the United Nations. The day was created to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
For most of us women, our childhoods consisted of days spent at school – learning in the classroom and playing outside on the playground. And, as we transitioned into young women and adults, we had the opportunity to forge our own paths and make our own choices. Whether that be pursuing post-secondary education, beginning our careers or settling down and starting a family – we held the power to mold our futures and do what we wanted.
However, this not every girl’s reality. And for many girls around the world, the very notion of having control over their own bodies, their own minds and their own futures is unfathomable.
So, as we approach International Day of the Girl, it’s critical to recognize what the day is intended to represent. While not all of us may be familiar with this day, here are three important reasons why International Day of the Girl matters.
1. The need to address girls’ rights
Currently there are 130 million girls around the world who are missing from classrooms. This isn’t because they are choosing not to attend, but because they are being denied their right to a safe education. In addition to this global crisis, there is also insufficient investment in assisting young girls in the challenges they face as they enter their adolescent years such as avoiding child marriage, receiving proper information, resources and services related to reproductive health, as well as protection when it comes to gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and sexual transmitted infections. As a result, we need to use this day to address these challenges, and determine ways we can empower girls and fulfill their human rights.
2. The celebration of how far we’ve come
International Day of the Girl provides the opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come in achieving gender equality, as well as celebrate those in our communities who have helped paved the way towards a brighter future for girls everywhere. Whether it’s notable global leaders like Malala or an advocate for girls and women in your local community, it’s essential that we take the time to acknowledge those who are fighting the good fight and providing girls with more opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential.
3. The chance to educate and motivate
International Day of the Girl offers the chance for women and men everywhere to take the time to become more knowledgeable about the challenges girls are facing and to become inspired and motivated to get involved in combatting these issues. Whether it’s through donating to a charity or non-profit organization that is aimed at empowering girls, by volunteering your time to a cause committed to fighting for girls’ rights or by reading a book or watching a documentary that highlights these issues to gain a better understanding or level of empathy, we should all use this day to commit to doing our own part in resolving this global issue – one that ultimately affects all of us. As Malala once said, “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.”
Please join us on October 9th in Saskatoon and Winnipeg and October 11th in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver as we celebrate International Day of the Girl by hosting film screenings of the powerful documentary, Girl, Rising. Created by a team of former journalists, Girl Rising tells the stories of nine girls from around the world who are affected by education – or lack thereof. Their stories are compelling, moving and emotional, and most importantly, shine a bright light on why we desperately need to invest in educating and empowering girls.
Proceeds from each screening will go towards helping a local charity in its mission of empowering and supporting girls and boys through the delivery of valuable services and resources.
To learn more about attending a Girl, Rising event in your community, click here.