I was lucky enough to be born in a country where I had the opportunity to receive an education. I had the opportunity to go to school and to embrace the art of learning. Even today, I continue my education as an undergraduate student and I am so grateful for that chance to be able to learn. Not everyone is that lucky.
I once read an inspiring saying from author Diane Mariechild and it is something that still sticks with me:
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”
These are words that must be embraced by women and young girls throughout the world. Today, Friday October 11th marks the second year of the International Day of the Girl Child, a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011 to recognize the challenges that girls around the world face but also to celebrate the power of girls and to ignite a movement towards complete equality for women throughout the world. Last year, the theme was “Ending Child Marriage” and this year the theme is “Innovating for Girls’ Education.” According to the United Nation’s website:
“The 2013 International Day of the Girl Child will address the importance of new technology, but also innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves.”
There are hundreds of events that are going to take place throughout the country and around the world today that are sponsored by campaigns and organizations like Girl Up!, Girl Rising, UNICEF and Plan International.
There are various issues that are going to be highlighted on this day and in future years on the “Day of the Girl.” Plan International’s Chief Executive Officer Nigel Chapman said it best:
“By designating October 11th as Day of the Girl we are all agreeing to put a special focus on the rights of girls throughout the world. We know that in many countries girls get left behind in all areas of life from school to work and many are prevented from fulfilling their true potential by severe discrimination and prejudice.”
The discrimination of girls throughout the world is an ever increasing problem; in every area of life, from education to the workforce to just recognition in society, girls are being devalued and neglected. We need to stand up and unite with those whose voices may not always be heard and strive towards having their stories told; those who have the platform to do so, must engage in highlighting the struggles that girls face and work towards finding solutions for them.
The campaign “Girl Rising,” is a global campaign that advocates on behalf of education for girls throughout the world. This past March, the film Girl Rising came out, directed by Richard Robbins and it documents the stories of nine girls from nine different countries and exemplifies the beauty and power of human strength, resilience and more importantly, how education can change the world. Students and individuals can register a screening of the movie for this Friday in honor of the “Day of the Girl.” Similarly, the Girl Up! campaign is having “11 days of action,” which started on October 1st and will continue until Friday. For 11 days, the Girl Up! campaign was calling for actions on social media which would help promote the theme of the “Day of the Girl” movement.
As I am sitting here writing this piece, I have to acknowledge and honor one special young woman who is igniting this movement more than anyone else: Malala Yousafzai. Shot in the head by the Taliban exactly a year ago today, Malala is courageously making education availability for girls her life long mission. She is the symbol for peace and a powerful voice that needs to be heard. When addressing the United Nations on July 12th, 2013, her 16th birthday, Malala called for children everywhere to be able to achieve the right of education, in peace and equality.
“So here I stand…one girl among many.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Those who have fought for their rights:
Their right to live in peace.
Their right to be treated with dignity. T
heir right to equality of opportunity.
Their right to be educated.”
This young woman should inspire us all to work hard in the face of adversity and to ignite a positive change throughout the world. It won’t be easy but we can be the ripple of hope for those who need it most. Lets consider October 11th as only the beginning in our continued pursuit for equality, opportunity and respect for all women and girls worldwide.
Photo Credit: Unicef via Pinterest