Today is the second International Day of the Girl. With the help of Plan Canada and the support of Canadians who petitioned the Federal Government, the UN officially declared October 11 “International Day of the Girl Child” back in 2011.
Sadly, girls in many parts of the world face abuse and discrimination simply because they are girls. Millions of girls are denied access to an education and forced to get married and have children while they are still children themselves.
This year’s theme is “Innovating for girls’ education” and events organized around the world are bringing attention to the obstacles that girls still face in terms of access to education. The focus is on smart and creative use of technology like:
- Keeping girls safe as they walk to and from school
- Improving sanitary facilities
- Deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas
The global statistics are alarming:
- Globally, 1 in 5 girls of lower secondary level is out of school (source: UNESCO)
- 70 per cent of the one billion people living in poverty are women and girls (source: UN Women)
- Girls’ primary school completion rates are below 50 per cent in most poor countries (source: UNESCO)
- 65 million girls do not attend primary or secondary school (source: UNESCO)
- Every 3 seconds another girl is forced into marriage (source: Plan’s Breaking Vows)
- 1 in every 3 girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18 (source: UNICEF 2011, “The State of the World’s Children”)
- About 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth every year (source: World Health Organization)
- The leading cause of death for young women aged 15-19 in developing countries is pregnancy (source: World Health Organization)
But if given the chance to get an education, girls are 6 times less likely to be married as children. And for every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 15 to 25 per cent.
I’m proud of Canada for transforming this movement into a global one. I hope International Day of the Girl isn’t just viewed as an annual observance but as a springboard for improving the lives of girls every day.
Discover ways that you can contribute to the global initiative and fight for the rights of girls around the world.
Visit Because I am a Girl to find out how to make a difference.