Two days after the brutal school bus shooting of Pakistan’s young female activist, Malala Yousafzai, the world is recognizing global issues like education, child marriage, violence, discrimination, and human rights for girls around the world through International Day of the Girl.
This year is the first year that the United Nations has officially recognized October 11th as International Day of the Girl Child. Plan Canada, one of the foremost organizations focussed on issues relating to girls, has been lobbying for this recognition since 2009 and launched a massive campaign called “Because I am a girl”, which helped spark the U.N.’s decision to mark the day.
The official U.N. theme for 2012 is ending child marriage; a violation that will impact every aspect of a girl’s life. According to the U.N., of all women aged 20-24 globally, one in three were married before the aged of 18. When a girl enters a marriage at a young age, taking care of her home and family becomes the number one priority, essentially eliminating the opportunity to receive an education and to build strong foundations for herself, her family, and her community. In Canada, the Federal Government and Plan Canada have focused mostly on the importance of education for girls globally .
The government and Plan Canada are leading the way today with events and activities to recognize International Day of the Girl. The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, recognized the some issues facing Canadians and girls around the world in her official message:
“The Government of Canada and Plan Canada, along with girls from across our country and around the world, worked tirelessly to make the International Day of the Girl a reality. The reason was simple: it will make a difference in the lives of girls and young women as citizens and powerful voices of change in their families, their communities and their nations.
This day will also serve to foster a greater understanding of girl-specific issues. Around the globe, girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys. Of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70% are girls.
In Canada, young women from 15 to 19 experience nearly ten times the rate of dating violence as young men. Nearly 70% of victims of internet intimidation are women or young girls. Girls and young women are nearly twice as likely as young men and boys to suffer certain mental health issues such as depression. Issues of body image and self-esteem remain prevalent among girls.” – Government of Canada Website
How can you get involved this International Day of the Girl?
Go to an event
Plan Canada has outlined events across the country that will take place today. In Toronto, you can attend an event at Dundas Square that includes a concert, pop-up shop, and interactive art exhibit.
Plan Canada has been producing the “Because I Am A Girl Report” annually since 2007. Education is power, and knowing the state of girls around the world is the first step in making a difference.
Spread the Word
If you can’t host or attend any Day of the Girl events, you can always spread the word. You can take a photo of yourself and your friends raising your hand to promote awareness, or you can virtually raise your hand via this Facebook page. As well, you can share the animated Day of the Girl video, present in your school, or take the pledge.
Plan Canada is a partner of getinvolved.ca and have multiple volunteer opportunities for you to make a difference for girls around the world.
Sponsoring a girl’s education can make a world of difference for her and her community. Find out more from Plan Canada.