International Day of The Girl Child

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, establishing a day to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The action follows a multi-year campaign by activists in Canada and the United States. In reserving a day for advocacy and action by and for girls, the UN has signaled its commitment to end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence, and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls.

In the United States, an organized campaign to achieve a national Day of the Girl is still underway. A project of the nonprofit organization School Girls Unite, the Day of the Girl campaign was launched by a core group of young girl activists with the goal of achieving Day of the Girl proclamations from localities across America. School Girls Unite ran petition drives, published issue papers, and met with government officials from local levels to the White House to build momentum for a national campaign kickoff day on September 22, 2011.

Twelve-year-old Annabelle from Oakland Mills Middle School in Columbia, Md., speaks volumes about the necessity of this movement: “For such a long time, people have disrespected us, and have thought men are superior. But this is our time. We need to protect our rights.”

School Girls Unite and the Day of the Girl campaign are now pursuing a long-term goal to achieve local proclamations in all 3,143 counties and each of the 50 states, as well as a Presidential Proclamation that would mirror the recent UN resolution. The mission of the National Day of the Girl campaign is to engage girls in civic leadership before age 18, empowering girls to make the changes they want to see in the world. “This Day can propel the movement to revive the push for equality,” predicts Shayna Goldsmith, a senior at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School in Maryland.

The International Day of the Girl Child serves to recognize girls as a population that faces difficult challenges, including gender violence, early marriage, child labor, and discrimination at work. The term “girl child” is commonly used abroad to distinguish the unique challenges faced by those under age 18 from those faced by women.

“This Day will raise awareness about these life-hindering obstacles, and will proactively breakdown those obstacles locally and globally,” explains 20-year-old Joanne Connelly. “Girls can effect the changes necessary to achieve the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as boys so they may fulfill their dreams.”

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