Written by P. Humbargar
The United Nations has adopted a resolution designating October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child, to be observed for the first time this year. The purpose of the resolution is to raise awareness of the situation of girls around the world.
The campaign to establish the International Day of the Girl was led in the U.S. by School Girls Unite, a group dedicated to fighting prejudice against girls worldwide.
Despite great strides in ending gender inequality in many countries, women and girls, not only in developing countries but in the US as well, still face discrimination, extreme poverty, and violence on a daily basis.
The organization, Day of the Girl, has put together the following list of facts to show why having an International Day of the Girl is so important in helping to raise awareness about the plight of girls everywhere.
SCHOOL DROPOUT – Only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled in secondary school. (PDF)
In America, the dropout rate is worse for boys, but one in four girls does not finish high school; and the dropout rate is even higher for minorities.
FORCED MARRIAGE – One in seven girls in developing countries is married off before age 15.
VIOLENCE – In the US more than half (54%) of all rapes of females happen before age 18. (PDF)
One in 5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.Worldwide children as young as age 11 are forced to work as prostitutes. Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year.
BODY IMAGE – More than half (54%) of 3rd-5th grade girls worry about their appearance and 37% worry about their weight.
More than half (57%) of music videos feature a female portrayed exclusively as a decorative, sexual object.
These are only a few of the facts portraying the challenges facing girls today—the instances and types of gender discrimination throughout the world are countless.
According to the United Nation’s resolution, the key to breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence against girls, and promoting and protecting their human rights, is to empower and invest in them. This includes the eradication of poverty and allowing girls meaningful participation in decisions that affect them. It also requires “the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community.”
To learn more about the issues and barriers facing girls, and the solutions that are being sought, visit http://dayofthegirl.org/about/. Information and assistance on how you or your organization can help raise awareness through the proclamation of International Day of the Girl at the local level, is provided on this site too.