Today, 11 October, is the first ever ‘International Day of the Girl’. The Day has been designated by the United Nations in response to a growing acknowledgement that investing in girls, while overcoming discrimination against girls, releases their potential to flourish and to contribute to their communities and to the world.
‘Girls are three times more likely than boys to suffer from malnutrition and are more likely to be forced into early marriage’, said Coordinator of the International Anglican Women’s Network, Ann Skamp. ‘Around the world, the daily realities of poverty, discrimination and violence mean that one in three girls is prevented from receiving a secondary education. Only when obstacles such as these are dismantled will girls properly achieve their full potential. So it’s time to shatter stereotypes, advocate for and enable equality, and change girls’ lives.’
Child marriage is a focus of this first International Day of the Girl. According to UN Women, every year, more than 10 million young girls world-wide are forced into marriage, even where this practice is illegal. As a result, child brides are deprived of a good childhood and are unable to make choices about their education and their future. Child brides are also likely to suffer from health problems such as HIV/AIDS, premature pregnancy and maternal mortality.
The intention of the Day of the Girl is to give people and organisations the opportunity to raise public awareness of the different types of discrimination and abuse from which many girls around the world suffer. It is also a time to show what is being done to empower girls through active support and through engagement with parents, families and the wider community.
‘Sadly, the good news of this movement for the enabling and flourishing of girls has coincided with the attempted murder of a 14 year old school girl in Pakistan on Tuesday’ reflected Mrs Skamp, referring to the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, an activist for education for girls who was shot in the head by an extremist while on a school bus with friends.
‘Today let’s hold in prayer Malala and all girls in cities, towns, villages and rural areas across our world, remembering that Jesus Christ has shown us the ultimate preciousness of each girl and each boy in our midst.’