Today is the International Day of the Girl Child as declared by United Nations. The International Day of the Girl Child initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organisation that operates worldwide. The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular.
International Day of the Girl Child was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly, sponsored by Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women, Rona Ambrose. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting October 11, 2012 as the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. Each year’s Day of the Girl has a theme; the first was “ending child marriage”, and the second, in 2013, was “innovating for girl’s education”
As this year’s theme for the day is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence” we decided to look at what international women of authority has had to say about empowering young girls across the world.
“For my brothers it was easy to think about the future. They can be anything they want. But for me it was hard and for that reason I wanted to become educated and empower myself with knowledge.”
“I don’t think it’s really productive to talk about issues like girls’ education unless we’re willing to have a much bigger, bolder conversation about how women are
viewed and treated in the world today. And we need to be having this conversation on every continent and in every country on this planet.”
“Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”
“The time has come for us to empower to girl child in order to secure the future of the African woman and women worldwide. The only way to predict the future is to create it so what we do now and today will decide what holds for women tomorrow. All over the world, the girl child in most societies, from the day she is born, suffers from gender discrimination, especially in Africa,” drawing attention to some hard-hitting statistics, highlighting the need to liberate the girl child, “from poverty, from illiteracy and from subordination.”
Princess Fifi Ejindu, Nigerian architect, businesswoman and philanthropist
“We know that when we empower girls, everybody benefits. Girls who are educated, healthy and free can transform their communities and pass on the benefits to their children, and to their children’s children.”
“Let women work and they drive economic growth across all sectors. Send a girl to school even just for one year and her income dramatically increases for life, and her children are more likely to survive and her family more likely to be healthier for years to come. Give women equal rights and entire nations are more stable and secure. Deny women equal rights and the instability of nations is almost certain.”
“We should always remember that any talk of women’s empowerment must necessarily include girls’ empowerment. As we all know, inequalities tend to reproduce across generations. We need to do everything we can to break this cycle of inequality. We need mentors and role models. We need to ensure that young women have the opportunity to shape their own future, and to aspire to be the best they can in any field they choose.”
“A peaceful world requires not only the end of conflict but also the end of the kind of injustices – poverty, inequality, the risks posed to development by climate change – that plague our world. Women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts is critical to building sustainable peace because no society can develop – economically, politically or socially – when half of its population is marginalised.”
“Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.”
“Women’s rights are vitally important not just for improving the position of women but for the health, strength and prosperity of their communities and societies. Everyone gains if the barriers holding women back are removed. And that’s particularly true if women get the chance to fulfil their talents and ambitions economically.
It’s not just the extra income that this generates for women and their families. Greater economic security and independence gives women more control over their lives and a more influential voice in their communities. And no society can thrive fully by writing off the talents of half their population. It’s why helping women to make the most of their economic potential is vital in tackling global poverty and inequality.”
“The new measures for social progress must be looked at from the perspective of gender equality, the way in which society treats its people, how it respects the individuality and rights of every human being, how every person is given the same opportunity, the same justice and the same freedom. This is a struggle that must be waged by men and women all over the world.”by