In 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Declaration is the first to call out girls’ rights specifically.
On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face worldwide. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses on the need to address the challenges girls face and promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life during these critical formative years and as they mature into women. This is not guaranteed, specially in developing countries, but also in some groups and circumstances in the more developed countries. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential not only to improve their own opportunities and lives but also to contribute to a more equitable and fair society, in which half of humanity is an equal partner in trying to solve its challenges.
Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalised communities.
BETTER WORLD? ONLY WITH EDUCATED GIRLS.
“I am a girl-child from Albania. When the earthquake destroyed our house, I had no place to sleep. I could not go to school. The earthquake damaged my books and my school. Then came the pandemic. I didn’t have a computer, phone or internet to learn. Coronavirus took away the opportunity to learn, to develop. There are many children like me in my neighbourhood.” (Fatime Osmani, Roma girl from Fushe Kruja town/Albania, age 16, interviewed in April 2021).
131 million girls do not attend school
There are 131 million girls worldwide out of school. Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to be excluded from primary school. Girls out of school are more vulnerable to early marriage, teen pregnancy, child labour, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking. An uneducated woman is less empowered to make decisions about her body and life. She is at higher risk of maternal complications and death, while her children are more likely to be malnourished and die in infancy.
Education is vital for all children and teenagers. If parents have the means to support their children, including girls, through school, the cycle of poverty could be broken. All future generations could benefit from the educating of just one child.
Digital revolution? Not without girls
While the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting, some 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 still do not have internet access at home. Girls are more likely to be cut off. The gender gap for global internet users grew from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in 2019. In the world’s least developed countries, it hovers around 43 per cent.
But the gender digital divide is about more than connectivity. Girls are also less likely than boys to use and own devices and access tech-related skills and jobs. Only by addressing the inequity and exclusion that span geographies and generations can we usher in a digital revolution for all, with all.
Five ways to support girls
Twice a year, two special observance days highlight the importance of women and girls to our world. To recognise International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, here are five easy ways you can make a big difference in the lives of daughters, sisters, and mothers around the world.
- Provide clean water to every family. Did you know that instead of attending class, girls and women worldwide spend 200 million hours each day getting the water that is often dirty and dangerous to their health? If they had clean water close at hand, there’s so much more they could do: attend school, play, spend time with their families, and start a business — to name a few. You can help provide clean water and open the door to a better life for a girl here https://giftcatalog.adra.org/gift-catalog/children/water-for-everyone/ .
- Mentor a girl close to home. Many girls growing up in Europe are held back by poverty, poor-performing schools, and teen violence. Reach out and influence a girl’s life in your community by volunteering as a tutor or mentor.
- Support girls and women in crisis. Millions of girls are subjected to abuse, child labour, trafficking, child marriage, and other offences—support national or international ADRA’s project with your gift. Your donation will go where it’s needed most. Protecting girls and women by equipping skilled, local staff to offer training, education, counselling, medical care, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls and boys — helping to end cycles of gender-based violence.
- Use your voice to help keep girls in school. When girls stay in school and finish secondary education, many good things happen for them and their families. They enjoy better health and can take care of themselves and their children. They live longer, marry later, earn higher wages, and are more active participants in community life. Yet, 130 million girls ages 6 to 17 are out of school. Become an advocate for every girl and every boy at https://inschool.adra.org/petition/support-the-campaign
- Tell the women in your life that you care. Want to encourage and empower girls and women? Start right in your own home, workplace, and community. Write a note of thanks to that teacher who inspired you years ago, prepare a cup of tea for that new mom in your office who’s struggling to balance it all, or tell your own sister, daughter, or mother how much you appreciate them.