International Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the United Nations; it is also called the Day of the Girl and the International Day of the Girl. October 11, 2012, was the first Day of the Girl. The observation supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequalityfaced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and unfree child marriage.
The International Day of the Girl Child initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide. The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular. Plan International representatives in Canada approached the Canadian federal government to seek to the coalition of supporters raised awareness of the initiative internationally.
International Day of the Girl Child was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly. Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women, sponsored the resolution; a delegation of women and girls made presentations in support of the initiative at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting October 11, 2012 as the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. The resolution states that the Day of the Girl recognizes
[the] empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community […]
Each year’s Day of the Girl has a theme; the first was “ending child marriage”, the second, in 2013, was “innovating for girl’s education”, the third, in 2014, was “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.” and the fourth, in 2015 was “The Power of Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030”
Today marks the International Day of the Girl Child, a United Nations led initiative supporting the more than 1.1 billion girls worldwide who are a powerful force for shaping a sustainable world.
The Day aims to highlight the fact too many girls around the world have their potential and dreams thwarted by violence, discrimination and inequality.
The theme this year is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement”, calling for action on increasing the availability and analysis of girl-focused and sex-disaggregated data.
Already, some such data highlights some of the major issues facing girls all over the world including that:
One in 3 girls in developing countries (except China) are married before turning 18
Poor girls are 2.5 times more likely to marry in childhood than wealthy girls
Child marriage usually ends a girl’s education, and puts her at greater risk of violence.
Childbirth is the number one killer of girls aged 15 to 19, with 50,000 deaths annually
36 million primary school aged girls are not in school
Girls receive just an average of six years of formal education in their lives
A girl’s income is elevated by 10 to 20% for every year of secondary school she attends
A child is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five if she is born to a mother who can read