In a world where Destroy The Joint often triumphs over misogynist Twitter trolls, it’s easy to think that we girls are winning since we decided to put our knitting down and come out of the typing pool to run the world fairly, but we are a long way from the ideal of equal rights for all.
Today is the UN International Day of the Girl child to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. For its second observance, this year’s Day will focus on “Innovating for Girls’ Education”.
Consider these facts;
1 in 7 girls is married before the age of 15
Every 60 seconds a girl dies giving birth
Girls are persecuted more than any other political or religious group
Around 90% of child workers are girls aged 12-17
Girls are three times more likely to suffer from malnutrition than boys
One in every four girls are sexually abused by the age of 18
And these from the UN website:
The fulfilment of girls’ right to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves: it is the one consistent positive determinant of practically every desired development outcome, from reductions in mortality and fertility, to poverty reduction and equitable growth, to social norm change and democratization.
While there has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education over the last two decades, many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of this basic right. Girls in many countries are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to safety-related, financial, institutional and cultural barriers. Even when girls are in school, perceived low returns from poor quality of education, low aspirations, or household chores and other responsibilities keep them from attending school or from achieving adequate learning outcomes. The transformative potential for girls and societies promised through girls’ education is yet to be realized.
Recognizing the need for fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward, the 2017 International Day of the Girl Child recognises the power of the adolescent girl, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves.
“There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls,” said Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General. I donate to Plan Australia, their Girls Fund is doing great work in the world.
I may be just a girl but I hope we educated gals in the west can go to bed knowing that we gave our sisters in other parts of the world an equal chance. As my 20 year old daughter said four years ago,
“What if the cure for cancer is trapped in the brain of a girl like Malala and it can’t get out because she’s not allowed to get an education?”