Girls Rights are Human Rights
by: Katie Grimmer
September 24, 2012
Millions of girls don’t attend school because they are married off before the age of 15. On October 11th, the world will recognize the first International Day of the Girl Child: a celebration of girls to support them in education and against violence.
Young girls around the world face discrimination and assault on a regular basis. Many are married and have a child of their own before the age of 15. Many are harassed at school by the time they reach puberty. Many have almost no rights and don’t even realize that they could. Many are invisible to their society.
The International Day of the Girl Child hopes to eventually change all of that.
Plan International, an independent organization that promotes child’s rights, was the first major organization to call for a day that recognizes girls. There is already a day to honor women and another in honor of children. But what about the one in three girls around the world that are denied an education due to circumstances beyond their control? Poverty. Violence. Discrimination.
With the help and support of the Canadian government, the United Nations voted to establish the Day of the Girl at the general assembly in December 2011. The campaign hopes to support four million girls over the next five years to get the “education, skills and support” they will need to move themselves “from poverty to opportunity.”
Plan hopes a day dedicated to recognizing girls will “bring global focus to the widespread denial of basic rights to girls, help to make girls and their rights visible, enable girls to gain an equal position in society,” and end gender discrimination.
Actress Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) is the newest celebrity ambassador. She recently visited Sierra Leone with Plan International to see the country’s girls’ rights projects. In her blog, she said she learned that the girls had high hopes and ambitions: to be a doctor, a journalist, a politician. But they see education as a luxury and must first overcome gender inequality.
“I was asked by a journalist in Sierra Leone,” Pinto wrote in her blog, “what hope can I give these girls to which I said: ‘To be very honest, these girls have given me hope.’ ”