“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”
-United Nations Resolution 66/170
In 2011, as the result of youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
The United Nations created the holiday, sometimes called International Day of the Girl Child, to celebrate the potential of the girls in different cultures around the world, and to highlight the threats, discrimination, and issues facing their well-being. Girls worldwide deserve better: better education, better survival rates, better protection from child marriage and sexual assault, better access to resources, better health outcomes, and a better future.
The International Day of the Girl isn’t just about fundraising and raising awareness; it’s also about collecting data to learn as much as we can. Girls worldwide often slip through the net of data collection, meaning we have an unclear idea of how they live and what they need. The theme of 2017’s October 11 celebration is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement”, because, as the United Nations writes, we need more numbers to help more girls:
The issues that demand attention and research are vast. Child marriage is a particular threat to girls worldwide; the very first International Day of the Girl was designed to shed light on the practice, and it’s believed that globally, nearly one in three girls are married before they turn 18, and one in seven before they turn 15. 700 million women alive today were married under 18, usually to men much older than themselves. But that’s not the only issue that the Day hopes to highlight. UNICEF estimates that 130 million girls worldwide have experienced female genital mutilation, that females make up 80 percent of the 800,000 people trafficked annually, and that up to 50 percent of all sexual assaults worldwide target girls under the age of 16. It’s not a safe or healthy world for girls, and that affects everybody.