Posted by Deepali Sood, Director of Because I am a Girl campaign for Plan International
When I heard that the UN had recognised the International Day of the Girl Child I held my 4-year-old daughter’s hand and jumped around in excitement.
As she stared up at me, I hoped that one day she will understand the significance of what we have achieved. I want her and every other girl in the world to feel a sense of pride and dignity and know that they have a valued and important role to play.
The Day of the Girl is about many things, but it is primarily about the world saying now is the time to recognise girls’ rights as THE salient issue of the coming decades. This is why, above all else, Plan’s global Because I am a Girl campaign has fought alongside girls themselves in establishing the day.
Girls are a global priority
For me, Plan’s advocacy work promoting the creation of the Day of the Girl is a matter of re-setting global priorities and shifting perspectives.
In the last half century alone, more women and girls have died as a result of gender discrimination than all the men who died in all the battles of the 20th century, and more girls were killed in any one decade than all of those who died in the genocides of last century.
Did you know that over 10 times as many girls are currently being trafficked each year than African slaves were transported during the height of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade?
Girls are the most marginalised and discriminated group around the world. We talk about their ‘invisibility’. There is also overwhelming evidence that empowered girls can transform their own lives and communities, and how their empowerment is therefore one of the best antidotes to global poverty. These are all powerful reasons to support a Day of the Girl.
Passion and commitment
So what is the actual role of the commemorative day? Such official days are a clear statement from the UN on its priorities and perspectives and create a foundation for advocacy and recognition from which social movements for change can grow. It shows that the international community acknowledges girls’ rights as a priority issue, and that girls’ voices are of importance and relevance in global affairs.
I am so glad that it has actually happened! The UN General Assembly has adopted this resolution thanks to the passion and commitment of girls themselves with support from Plan, the Canadian government and all the UN member states, as well as the thousands of people who signed our petition.
Global campaign launch
In 2012 the global launch of our Because I am a Girl campaign date will coincide with the first Day of the Girl on October 11. This will be the start of a new journey for us and a renewed opportunity to rally for girls’ rights.
I am proud to feel that I have contributed to making girls visible and hope that as my daughter grows up she will be able to celebrate this day every year and the impact it will continue to have on girls’ lives around the world.