October 11 is the annual International Day of the Girl, a day that marks the anniversary of the attempted assassination of young Malala Yousafzai. Malala, a Pakistani school girl who was targeted by the Taliban for daring to suggest that girls should go to school and receive an education. Malala is the daughter of an educator who never held his daughter back from school, together they spoke out about education and the need for girls to complete school. She was shot point blank while sitting in a school bus with her classmates and barely survived.
But survive she did and the attack only made her stronger.
Now, at age 18 she remains a vocal advocate for education, women’s rights, is the subject of a newly released film; He Named Me Malala, has been given the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament and in 2014 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, you can see her full speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOqIotJrFVM
On her 18th birthday she celebrated by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon, “Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets,” Yousafzai declared at the school site. The school’s expenses are covered by The Malala Fund.The Malala Fund has a single goal: to allow girls to complete 12 yearssafe, quality education so that they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities.
International Day of the Girl
The UN declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world.
“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
The UN’s demonstrated commitment to recognizing girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world includes calling on UN agencies, Member States, civil society organizations, and private sector stakeholders to commit to putting adolescent girls at the centre of sustainable development efforts by making the following critical investments in their present and future:
- Invest in high quality education, skills, training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership.
- Invest in health and nutrition suitable to the adolescent years, including puberty education, menstrual hygiene management, and sexual and reproductive health education and services.
- Promote zero tolerance against physical, mental, and sexual violence.
- Enact and consistently implement social, economic, and policy mechanisms to combat early marriage and female genital mutilation.
- Invest in the creation and maintenance of social and public spaces for civic and political engagement, creativity and talent enhancement.
- Promote gender-responsive legislation and policies across all areas especially for adolescent girls who are disabled, vulnerable and marginalized, and victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
60 million girls world-wide are missing out on the opportunities for education. The poorest girls in developing countries spend, on average, less than 3 years in school.
In 2015, females make up 64% of the world’s adult population who are illiterate, cannot do basic math, or participate fully in society at the same level as their school-educated male counterparts.
According to the Because I am a Girl website 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year, most of those are under 15 when they marry. These girls carry the burden of household chores rather than spending time in school. A good education will make it possible for girls to make their own decisions and choices about things that affect their lives, like when to seek out healthcare, when to start a family, and what jobs to pursue.
Better-educated girls are likely to marry later and have their first babies later, avoiding some of the dangerous health complications that come with giving birth too young. They are also more likely to have healthier children and less likely to contract HIV/AIDS and malaria because girls will learn about their own sexual health and their rights. An educated girl is more likely to understand her rights and be a force for social change against violence and discrimination.
For every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 10 to 20% which will allow her to help raise her family out of poverty.
This is the positive change that results when you educate a girl.
How You Can Help
- Help spread awareness, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus etc. Any place that others will find it and conversations can take place.
- You can donate to PLAN Canada’s Because I am a Girl campaign. Sponsorships are available long term or in single donations
- Create a fundraising web page and start collecting donations now.
- Take action and contribute to The Malala Fund.
- Talk to your children, both boys and girls should discuss gender inequalities and why we must work together to empower young girls.