If you are like me, you might be wondering, ‘What is a girl child?’ Well simply, it is a female child.
And on Tuesday 11th October, on International Day of the Girl Child, we celebrate girls and raise awareness of their education and human rights.
So many girls, merely because of their age and gender, face unprecedented challenges, but it can be easy for some of us to momentarily forget the difficulties young girls encounter on a daily basis around the world.
Although we have a way to go still, in the UK, we are privileged to have a hard-fought history of positive attitudes towards the education and rights of girls.
But many girls do not have this advantage. They battle against discrimination. Issues such as child marriage, education inequality, gender-based violence, climate injustice, and a lack of access to healthcare are faced by girls across the world.
The United Nations promotes this international day of observance to put the issues that girls face at the forefront of policy and discussion. Otherwise, young girls could easily be left out of national policies or international issues.
Being so young, it’s important that their voice is not lost and that they feel empowered to have a voice in the first place.
With much progress in many areas, there is still so much more to be done.
Many girls will never have their dreams fulfilled or their potential realised. Some will go hungry or never be able to get an education.
In addition, millions of girls will sadly be ‘given’ in marriage when they are still a child! This means they will be unable to continue their education and many will be subject
to rape and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, this issue has increased over the Covid pandemic due to economic instability in countries where this is permitted.
According to USAID, when 10% more girls go to school in a country instead of leaving education and getting married or working around their house, the country’s GDP increases on average by 3%.
And that’s only 10% more girls! Imagine if all girls were in school!
States need to grapple with this. It is in their best interest to keep girls in school, fight poverty and create fairer access to healthcare.
The longer children stay in school, the more they are likely to earn for themselves; but also the more the nation's economy can flourish. This in turn will help to battle poverty and create a means to create healthcare access.
As we pause today and reflect on what it’s like to be a girl child around the world, we can also praise all the organisations and people who are championing girls’ human rights.
Our international partners for instance teach girls and boys about equality. They explain that all genders can achieve the same things and work in the same jobs. This kind of work is vital for achieving equality and improving human rights.
They also teach girls about their potential; they encourage them with their education and work to prevent violation and violence towards girls.
Testimonies from these girls demonstrate the confidence they have grown and the realisation that they can have dreams of their own - and they can make them happen with the help of others.
One of our partner projects in South Africa ran an event in August 2022 for girls, with the slogan, ‘None of us is as smart as all of us’.
One person can make a difference, but it’s not without the support and encouragement of others.
We can only make an impact on the rights, treatment, and experience of girls around the world when we tackle the issues together - international organisations, governments, charities, and individuals.
Let’s begin taking steps on this International Day of the Girl Child to make this happen.
More information: International Day of the Girl Child | United Nation