International Day Of The Girl Child
Every year since 2012, International Day of the Girl is celebrated on Oct. 11 to recognise how hard being a girl can be. The United Nations (UN) created the holiday to celebrate the potential of girls in different cultures around the world, and to highlight the threats, discrimination and issues facing their well-being
The theme of this year’s observance is ‘Ending Child Marriage.’ The UN called for an end to child marriage and stressed that education is a strategic background for protecting girls against this harmful practice and to recognise girls’ rights and highlight the unique challenges girls face worldwide.
Girls worldwide deserve better: better education, better survival rates, better protection from child marriage and sexual assault, better access to resources, better health outcomes and a better future. It’s a very tall order considering some of the challenges ahead but the UN and others are hopeful that Oct. 11 can be a rallying cry with which to empower girls worldwide.
Making the world better for girls makes the world better for everybody, period.
The World Bank, for instance, points out that girls with education grow into women who “tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers.” These factors combined, they say, “help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty”.
However, UNESCO notes that 116 million women across developing countries worldwide have never completed primary school, and that two-thirds of the illiterate population worldwide are female. The costs of holding girls back are big for everybody. This International Day of the Girl, we remember these inequities while celebrating girls’ resilience and strength.
“Education for girls is one of the best strategies for protecting girls against child marriage”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day. “When they are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, girls can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families”.
Approximately 70 million young women today were married before age 18, according to the UN, which notes that child marriage denies a girl her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of being a victim of violence and abuse, and jeopardizes her health.