international day of the girl child

International Day of the Girl Child: Toward a Better World for Girls

On October 11 of every year, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child. First established in 2012, it aims to bring attention to all the little girls. 

This awareness day serves a twofold purpose. Firstly, it aims to increase global awareness of gender inequality and draw attention to the need for equal opportunities. Secondly, it encourages the mobilization of resources, political commitment, and collective efforts to address girls' challenges. 

Read on to learn more about how we can amplify the voices of girls worldwide.

Featured in: October - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of International Day of the Girl Child

young girl on field
Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash

In December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170, stating October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. It gained support from the Canadian government and Plan International, an advocate for children’s rights.

This annual event supports young girls' and women's rights and empowerment worldwide. It addresses the challenges they often encounter, such as limited access to education and healthcare, early marriages, and gender-based violence.

So, on October 11, 2012, the first-ever International Day of the Girl Child happened, focusing on ending child marriage. 

Every year since then, a specific theme has been chosen to highlight different aspects of girls' lives. In 2023, the theme was "Digital Generation. Our Generation".

We must also acknowledge the influential figures who have played a role. First, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate, has become a symbol of the fight for girls' education. 

The Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama strongly advocated for girls through her "Let Girls Learn" initiative. 

Their stories have contributed to the global conversation around child marriage and educational inequality.

Related Read: Human Rights Day, International Women's Day

Why International Day of the Girl Child Matters

Highlighting the rights and plights of girls through International Day of the Girl Child is crucial due to harmful practices, such as child marriage, limited educational access, high exposure to violence, and the cycle of poverty.

Tackling these interconnected problems requires a comprehensive approach, as addressing one but neglecting others can undermine progress. With this understanding, we can delve into the sobering statistics underpinning these issues.

Here are some vital facts on why the International Day of the Girl Child matters:

  • Globally, child marriage impacts one in five girls, and despite declining rates since the 1990s, 12 million girls continue to be wed prematurely each year. If left unchecked, an additional 100 million girls will fall victim to this predicament by 20301.
  • According to UNESCO estimates, about 118.5 million girls worldwide do not attend school.
  • Globally, approximately 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have reportedly been victims of forced sexual acts, with a startling statistic revealing that only 1% sought professional help post-incident. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 victims are close to their perpetrator2.
  • The recent pandemic has put 47 million women and girls in poverty, living on less than $1.90 daily.

Read more: Equality and Diversity Facts.

Efforts and Initiatives

girl child smiling
Photo by Jorge Barahona on Unsplash

UNICEF's various girls empowerment initiative aims to provide quality education, healthcare, and overall support for girls worldwide. One recent example is their Adolescent Girls Programme Strategy, 2022 - 2025

The Malala Fund, led by Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel laureate, is another influential campaign that provides at least 12 years of quality education for girls. 

This initiative focuses on regions where girls' education is often overlooked; investing in opportunities for adolescent girls upholds their rights and promises a bright future. By providing education, the campaign aims to transform the future of girls who face societal expectations and long-standing traditions.

The UN's Girl Up campaign is another transformative initiative that engages young American girls in raising awareness and funds for UN programs that support adolescent girls in remote areas. These programs cover a range of prerequisites for a girl's well-being, including education, healthcare, and safety. It also takes a strong stand against child marriages. 

Altogether, in collaboration with civil society organizations, these campaigns provide the comprehensive support necessary for girls to thrive, nurturing girls globally.

How to Support International Day of the Girl Child

two girls holding a book
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
  • Attend a local rally, join an online symposium, or engage in conversations about the issues. These events are held in different parts of the world. By participating, one can make a significant impact and show support for girls everywhere.
  • Promote girls' empowerment online. Whether sharing a moving story of a girl who overcame challenges, tweeting a fact about the unseen difficulties that girls face, or reposting a video on gender bias, every effort counts towards the cause. 
  • Watch a documentary, read an eye-opening news article, or read literature about child marriages or gender-based violence.
  • Support and advocate local policies and initiatives designed toward girls' empowerment.
  • Join fundraising events or donate to legitimate women-centric organizations.
  • Finally, talk to girls in your circle or the community to inspire and boost their self-confidence. Share empowering stories of women such as Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, and many more.

Conclusion

The International Day of the Girl Child focuses on girls' unique challenges worldwide, promoting gender equality. We must ensure that every girl has the opportunity to reach her full potential, free from biases and harm, and achieve gender equality.

Moreover, we must use this day as a catalyst for progress rather than a final destination. So, let’s take steps starting today to fill the world with empowered girls.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is International Day of the Girl Child?

This event is an annual observance designated by the United Nations to raise awareness about the unique challenges girls face worldwide and promote their empowerment.

2. Why is it important?

This day highlights girls' inequalities and discrimination, including limited access to education, child marriage, and gender-based violence. It provides an opportunity to advocate for girls' rights and work towards creating a more equitable society.

3. How can I support the cause?

Spread awareness about girls’ rights through social media, participating in local events, donating to organizations that empower girls, and advocating for policies that promote gender equality.

4. What critical issues do girls face globally?

These challenges include limited access to education, child marriage, gender-based violence, unequal opportunities in employment and leadership roles, and lack of access to healthcare and reproductive rights.

5. Are there any initiatives specifically focused on empowering girls?

You can check out Plan International's "Because I am a Girl" campaign, the Malala Fund, Girls Not Brides, and UNICEF's initiatives for girls' education and protection.

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Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash
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