Who’s Your #GIRLHERO ?

Each of us has a girl we admire. She might be an actress on your favorite TV show, an activist for an organization whose work you follow, or she might be a girl in your school or neighborhood who makes it a point to be friendly to everyone she sees.
Maybe she’s your mother. Or sister. Or best friend.

Whoever she may be, we want your help honoring her. To celebrate International Day of the Girl, Girl Up has launched #GIRLHERO, a photo-sharing campaign designed to light up social media feeds with the stories of girl power around the world.
Here’s how you can get in on the action right now:

  1. Select a girl who inspires you – your very own #GIRLHERO
  2. Post a photo of her on social media, tag her, and write why you think she is a #GIRLHERO
  3. Rinse and repeat for the other powerful girlheroes in your life.

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl is “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision 2030.” This theme couldn’t be more fitting because girls do have power. Our world is filled with remarkable girls who act to make our world a better place. Who speak up, when others remain silent. These girls are girlheroes.

#Girl Hero Quote-Fereshteh Forough
We’re asking you to tag your #GIRLHERO on social media, and we’re doing the same. You can read about our personal girlheroes at GirlUp.org/GIRLHERO, and find even more ways to get your #GIRLHERO on. Whether you want to add a filter to your social media profile picture to stand with girls around the world, sign a pledge to support the global goals, or make plans to see He Named Me Malala in theaters, there’s an action for you.
There might even be a pretty awesome girl power Spotify playlist for you to check out. So join us, and tell us who your #GIRLHERO is.

Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, supports the empowerment of girls everywhere. Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has funded UN programs that promote the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries and built a community of nearly half a million passionate advocates – including Girl Up Global Advocates Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Latin American business leader Angélica Fuentes. Our youth leaders, representing more than 1,100 Girl Up Clubs in 66 countries, stand up, speak up, and rise up to support the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. Learn more at GirlUp.org

The Power of the Adolescent Girl

When the Millennium Development Goals were implemented in 2000, Naw Cynthia was an adolescent girl striving for an education with little support from her family, her country of Myanmar, or the world at large.  Today, as global leaders recently met for the United Nations General Assembly to establish new goals for 2016, the face of this agenda is an adolescent girl – a girl in school, safe, not married off, and able to aspire to follow her dreams.

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th is ‘the power of the adolescent girl’.  Global communities are being called upon to commit to critical investments in quality education, skills, training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership.

The world recently witnessed the courage and power of an adolescent Pakistani girl, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafazi, who fought the Taliban for her right to attend school.  Malala’s story, detailed in her book I Am Malala and her upcoming documentary, He Named Me Malala, is an inspiration for girls all around the world.

However, it is not an easy journey for adolescent girls.  Naw Cynthia was one of five children with an absent father and a mother driven to beat her children.  As a young girl, Naw Cynthia was sexually abused by her neighbor.  These abuses seriously impacted her confidence. Yet she was determined to rise above her childhood and stand tall.  She knew that a good education would be her liberator.

Now a well-educated and respected proponent of quality education and literacy in Myanmar, Naw Cynthia is working to give today’s adolescent girls a voice and to encourage them to pursue their dreams through education.

Naw Cynthia readily shares her story with adolescent girls because she wants them to be strong and to not compromise their dreams.  She tells Burmese girls “You are NOT weak.  You are strong.  Do NOT let others look down on you.  And do NOT tolerate any form of abuse or harassment.”

Like so many women who juggle multiple responsibilities, Naw Cynthia worries she is not a good mother or a good leader or a good wife.  We believe she is an outstanding role model for girls and boys.  Naw Cynthia will teach her son to treat girls with respect and to value their contribution in the world.

Girls need inspirational role models like Naw Cynthia and Malala.   With approval from Malala Foundation, Educational Empowerment is translating I Am Malala into Burmese.  Soon it will be published in Yangon so Burmese girls can read Malala’s powerful story. Educational Empowerment is proud to be an advocate for girls’ rights at this pivotal time in history.  Girls need to know they have rights and how to access them.  Let’s all celebrate the power of the adolescent girl.

To take immediate action:

  • Join Girls Globe conversation on Twitter @GirlsGlobe
  • Become a champion for girls’ and women’s rights.
  • Donate to Educational Empowerment at donate.
  • Let your voices be heard for girls worldwide!

Educational Empowerment was created by women and for women and girls. EE promotes literacy and education for children, families and communities severely affected by poverty and injustice in Myanmar. By empowering women and girls through education, we position women in Myanmar to attain their equal rights.

Please visit us at www.educationalempowerment.org & follow us on Facebook at EE, Twitter @EEmpower, and on Instagram.

“Make Some Trouble On Behalf Of Women”

In the last few weeks, we have heard much about the International Day of the Girl Child. The very fact that today exists, under U.N. declaration no less, is a huge step forward for girls across the world in terms of garnering recognition and gathering momentum for real change. Girls’ Globe is a huge supporter of the International Day of the Girl Child, and we’ve previously posted about why we need International Day of the Girl Child, how to get involved as well as resources to educate yourself about the state of girls around the world.

Photo Credit: Prachatai, Creative Commons on Flickr

As women, we have an especially vested interest in furthering the cause of girls around the world. Not only for the fact that we were once girls ourselves, but because the young girls of today are our daughters, our granddaughters and our successors and will be responsible for carrying on the work we have started. In 1996, Nora Ephron, known for her wit, humour and candor regarding womanhood, gave a commencement speech to the Wellesly graduating class which emphasized the importance women have in defining not only their own lives, but those of the girls following behind them.

Ephron was unafraid to admit that the world, advanced though it may now be, is still in many ways hostile towards its women and girls. Speaking to the class, she stated:

What I’m saying is, don’t delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth. Don’t let the New York Times article about the brilliant success of Wellesley graduates in the business world fool you — there’s still a glass ceiling. Don’t let the number of women in the work force trick you — there are still lots of magazines devoted almost exclusively to making perfect casseroles and turning various things into tents.

Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.

Ephron’s ability to admit the obstacles we still face is both refreshing and intimidating. The idea that we have not yet achieved quality, after so much time and effort, is an uncomfortable one, especially when it is possible to trick ourselves into the illusion of equality through the progress some countries have made. But if we are living in a world where gendercide is still commonplace, rape victims are still blamed for their assaults, young girls are still denied an education and sexual slavery is increasing, not decreasing, we still have a very long way to go.

Walking the fine line between unflinching honesty and encouragement, Ephron spoke to the Wellesly class of ’96 about their capacity to change the world for successive generations. And although her speech was aimed at a class of young professionals about to start their careers, her words apply to all of us; graduates, established careerwomen, mothers, grandmothers, across the spectrum of class, race and nationality. We have the power to improve the lives for the girls coming after us, and with that incredible power comes certain responsibility.

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had — this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. Twenty-five years from now, you won’t have as easy a time making excuses as my class did. You won’t be able to blame the deans, or the culture, or anyone else: you will have no one to blame but yourselves. Whoa.

Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women. Thank you. Good luck. The first act of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives.

Photo Credit for the featured image: Elvert Barnes on Flickr (Creative Commons).

Why We Need an International Day of the Girl Child

I was lucky to be born into a time and a culture where being born a girl did not equate to being born into serving a life sentence. As  a young girl, I was enrolled in the best schools, taught math and science and not only told I could be but pushed to be a professional with an independent career. My adolescence and young adulthood have not been spent conforming to any pre-established standards, but rather learning how to responsibly manage the incredible amount of freedom I have. For better or worse, I have been free to drive where I want, dress the way I want, say the things I want, study what I want and be the person I want to be. (How well I’ve done any of the aforementioned is, of course, highly debatable.)

As many in our culture do, I took it for granted for a very long time that this freedom was a universal phenomenon. Stories from the other side of the world of gender oppression seemed too far removed for me to fully grasp, and every case of stoning or domestic abuse or child marriage I heard of, I imagined as horrific outliers. Yet with the increasing levels of globalization and technology has come the terrifying knowledge that those everyday horror stories are, in many cases, the rule rather than the exception. Girls of young ages are regularly married to much older men (who do not wait to initiate them to the practices of marriage), genital mutilation is still thriving in some cultures, domestic abuse rates remain alarmingly high and girls are still far behind in education.

Even in our own backyards, though not as overt, young girls are not immune to deep-seated and deeply damaging gender-based prejudices. Girls as young as sixteen are being sexually assaulted and then often blamed for provoking the attacks. Women are still being blatantly exploited for their sexuality. A summer hit, played everywhere and sung casually and often, can be about non-consensual sex and it will still shoot to the top of the charts. The constant debasement of women is still a powerful undercurrent in our societies. In many different ways in many different places, young girls are born to a unique and difficult battle for dignity and basic rights.

With this in mind, the UN declared October 11 International Day of the Girl Child. As the U.N. states:

Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

IDGC farah postIt would be easy to dismiss International Day of the Girl Child as ceremonial, but in reality the United Nations has taken an important step towards addressing an insidious and integral failing in the way we socialize our young men and women. The International Day of the Girl Child has already started important conversations, including how we can better raise our young men, how we have to change what we expect of ourselves and how we judge other women in order to allow our girls to grow up free of the violence, both physiological and psychological, that has plagued our gender for generations. Last year, the inaugural Day was celebrated under the theme of Ending Child Marriage. This year, the theme is “Innovating for Girls’ Education”, and events organized around the world are bringing attention to the issue of girls’ education and the challenges that girls still face in terms of access to, and quality of, education both at the primary and secondary levels.

Each year on 11 October, a specifically chosen theme will shine a light on a particular topic pertinent to the well-being and rights of girls around the world, but the International Day of the Girl Child should not be a one-off thing that only gets noticed once a year – it should be a starting point for a positive change in the lives of girls around the world that happens every single day. Girls’ Globe is working to be a part of that change, and we invite you to join us in making every single day the Day of the Girl Child, everywhere in the world!

Images:

Featured image by Flickr user Afghanistan Matters, listed under Creative Commons.

Image in post by Omar Chatriwala, listed under Creative Commons.

International Day of the Girl Child – Roar for the Power of Girls!

Featured image courtesy of World Bank
Featured image courtesy of World Bank

11 October marks the International Day of the Girl Child, designated as such by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011. Last year, the Day was inaugurated under the theme of Ending Child Marriage. This year, the theme for the Day is “Innovating for Girls’ Education”. Girls’ Globe will be in New York covering events taking place on 11 October, so stay tuned for blogs, photos and video, and remember to follow us on social media!

Will you celebrate the day? Are there events taking place in your home country and city? Let us know how you are joining the global movement to celebrate the power and potential of Girls!

Watch this great and inspirational video done by Discovery Digital and Jason Silva for his web series, Shots of Awe, in collaboration with UNICEF:

Girl DeclarationStakeholders such as UNICEF, Plan International, UN Women, Intel Foundation, Nike Foundation, UNESCO, Global Education First Initiative and innovators from organizations including girltank, Girls Who Code, Sustainable Health Enterprises, Adolescent Girls Advocacy and Leadership Initiative (AGALI) and others are participating in events organized in New York to celebrate the Day. The Girl Declaration, representing the voices, thoughts, dreams and needs of girls around the world, will be delivered to the United Nations!

What can YOU do?

  • Participate in this Thunderclap organized by UNICEF
  • Find out what is happening in your community, and take part in events!
  • Use the #DayoftheGirl hashtag to share your thoughts through social media, and to raise awareness about girls’ education and girls’ rights
  • Blog about girls’ education, or write an OP-ED
  • Help to erase discrimination against girls – take part in Plan’s Erase It for Girls-initiative
  • Participate in the events organized in New York – see more information below!

Information on events taking place in New York on 11 October 2013:

Google Hangout with UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake –  11 October, 9-10 am, New York (livestreamed)

 

Erasing Barriers to Girls’ Education – 9:45-11:30 a.m., New York

Erasing Barriers

Game Changers for Girls’ Education – 1:15-2:45 p.m., New York

Game Changers invite

Working Group on Girls: Girls Speak Out event, 3-5 p.m., New York

IDG_Speak-Out_Invitation

Educating girls: The Right Thing to Do, and the Smart Thing to Do

Image courtesy of UNICEF
Image courtesy of UNICEF

October 11th was declared the International Day of the Girl Child in December 2011 through UN General Assembly Resolution 66/170. The first celebration of the Day took place last year under the theme of child marriage. This year, for the second Day of the Girl, the focus is on “Innovating for Girls’ Education”.

There has been notable progress in the area of girls’ education since 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals were launched. Still, much needs to be accomplished before girls and women around the world can enjoy equal access to, and quality of, education at primary, secondary and higher levels with boys and men. In many countries, girls still complete primary education at much lower rates than boys, and gender, along with poverty and place of residence, is a key factor in keeping kids out of school. Millions of girls are unable to complete basic levels of education because of multiple barriers related to poverty, safety, institutional and structural problems and culture – all of which disproportionately affect girls.

Image courtesy of UNESCO: Education for All Global Monitoring Report
Image courtesy of UNESCO: Education for All Global Monitoring Report

There is overwhelming evidence that girls’ education is one of the most powerful tools not only for their empowerment, but for poverty reduction and development of entire communities and nations. There truly is a “trickle down” effect for girls’ education – it results in reductions in maternal and child mortality, as educated girls are better equipped to take care of their health and seek medical care during pregnancy and childbirth than girls with little or no education. Girls’ education also leads to lower rates of child marriage, early births and decreased fertilitynarrows pay gaps between men and women, and improves women’s  ability to find meaningful employment.

Despite all the facts about the vast benefits of educating girls and young women, proving that girls’ education it is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do, millions of girls around the world still are not in school. They either lack access to education entirely, are forced to drop out of school early, or are discriminated against within the school system; all of which negatively impact their learning outcomes and the skills and knowledge they gain in school. The theme for this year’s Day of the Girl – Innovating for Girls’ Education – not only aims to bring attention to new, innovative and creative approaches to improving access to and quality of education for girls, but is also a reminder of the fact that while a lot of progress has been made, girls’ education agenda is far from finished. Ensuring that girls have access to primary education is important, but only the first step. Access to primary level education does not translate to actual positive change for girls and women unless girls stay in school, receive good quality and relevant educationcomplete primary education at the same rate with boys, and then have the ability to continue to secondary education. Plan International has stated that girls need a minimum of 9 years of good quality, relevant education for it to truly translate into increased levels of empowerment, decision making ability, health and security – and as the world is coming together to forge the new Post-2015 Global Development Agenda, it is crucial to ensure that girls’ education is strongly represented in the new goals, targets and indicators that are being formulated. Recognizing and celebrating success is important – but success should not translate to complacency or the false belief that girls’ education is a completed agenda.

Infograph by Plan International
Infograph by Plan International

Girls’ Globe will be actively participating in this year’s Day of the Girl celebrations both at the global level and in New York where UN agencies, governments, private sector and civil society will come together on 11 October to mark the day through various events and activities. We are also currently in New York, in the heart of the #MDG456Live conversations during UN General Assembly week!  Remember to check out our Storify-page for daily posts, photos, videos and Tweets from New York!

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine to stay on top of what is happening as the world’s attention rightly turns to girls – the one true silver bullet of growth, development and progress!

EDUCATE A GIRL kopio

Share your experiences on innovative approaches to girls’ education with us in the comments! Also participate in The World We Want E-discussions on Education in the Post-2015 Agenda – Girls’ Globe will be co-moderating one of the discussions, so stay tuned for more information!

 Follow UNICEF’s Gender Equality site for updates on this year’s events and activities both in New York and at the global level! Remember to check out these other Girls’ Globe posts on girls’ education, and take a look at our great infograph on education as a girl’s human right!