International Day of the Girl Child
This year, the International Day of the Girl Child will be celebrated under the theme “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable,” to celebrate all of the achievements by, with and for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the passage of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. This day also aims to highlight & address the needs & challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment & the fulfilment of their human rights.
The Day of the Girl Child helps increase awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide because of their gender. Areas such as access to education, nutrition, medical care, legal rights, protection from discrimination, violence against women and forced child marriage are the inequalities experienced.
Every girl has boundless potential, despite the harmful gender norms that still influence their lives, girls are breaking the barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusions. Today, more girls are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children and more are gaining access to health and to the professional skills they need to excel.
Girls are also leading and fostering a world that is relevant for them and for future generations.
Malala Yousafzai, is one example; she is known to be the youngest Nobel Prize laureate at only 17 years for her humanitarian efforts. She was shot on her way to school by the Taliban because she was an advocate for women pursuing education. In 2013, she founded the Malala Fund to champion every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.
Greta Thunberg is yet another example of a young activist; she urges immediate action to address what she describes as climate crisis. She has been named for the 2019 Right Livelihood Award. Thunberg recently caught the attention of various news and social media channels for her impassioned speech “How Dare You” at the United Nations’ Climate Summit. She was honoured for her climate change activism that has stirred a dialogue across borders.
11-year- old Naomi Oloyede travelled to Vienna, Austria in October 2019 to take part in the International Conference “Educating for the Rule of Law” held under the Education for Justice Initiative of UNODC’s Doha Declaration Global Programme. At the High-Level opening, Naomi addressed over 350 leaders, policymakers and educators gathered from across the world and, on behalf of all children, urged them to make the world a better, safer and more inclusive place: “We want to grow up in a place where there is peace and where the rule of law is respected”.
We therefore ought to defend all girls’ rights without discrimination and invest in gender equality. Let us, on this International Day for the Girl Child, urge and mould girls to be able to break boundaries and barriers caused by stereotypes and exclusions.