“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” -United Nations Resolution 66/170
Today, October 11, is the Day of the Girl, a day that just two years ago was declared by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world. It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere. Fast forward two years and the Day of the Girl has become a global movement of hope, inspiration and advocacy to better the lives of half our planet who is being left behind.
As girls, we experience inequality in every aspect of our lives. There are a billion reasons why we need the Day of the Girl, but let’s start with just a dozen (all are linked to their source. Just double click on statistic and you can read it in full):
- By 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s illiterate (adult) population. (PDF)
- Only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled in secondary school. (PDF)
- Girls make up half of the high school population, but receive only 41% of all athletic participation opportunities.
- Women only hold 15.7% of top leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies.
- One in seven girls in developing countries is married off before age 15.
- More than half (54%) of all rapes of females happen before age 18. (PDF)
- 1 in 5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- Children as young as age 11 are forced to work as prostitutes. Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year.
- 54% of 3rd-5th grade girls worry about their appearance and 37% worry about their weight.
- 57% of music videos feature a female portrayed exclusively as a decorative, sexual object.
- Females continue to be underrepresented in top roles in film with less than 1 in 3 speaking characters in children’s movies.
There is so much we can all do to ensure girls receive the same opportunity and future as all. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Join “Day of the Girl” movement
- Read the amazing book, “I am Malala”: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.
- Watch the newly released movie: “He Named Me Malala” and bring your kids!
- Watch the amazing “Girl Rising” and visit the webpage.
- Read “Half the Sky” (This is the book that inspired me to begin my long self-journey of learning about women and girls rights around the world and writing about it on my blog. It is thoroughly eye-opening!).
- If you have a girl, join the cool United Nations Foundation “Girl Up” movement.
- Talk with your boys and girls about the importance of the movement and what is happening globally to girls.
- Simply read and share this post. Education is critical to gaining knowledge of the issues and getting more people involved.
- Learn and talk about the issues. Nothing will change if we don’t use our voice.
Here are some the unforgettable girls I’ve met throughout my work and travels that have inspired me to never, ever give up.
Finally, here is the girl I hope to take my place someday and continue the fight for women and girls….my own Sophia (age 8).
And of course I can’t forget my son Max (age 10) who will also be instrumental in creating change!