“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”
Every year on October 11, the world unanimously comes together to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child. This day is specially marked to celebrate the empowerment of girls, acknowledge their importance, potential, and voices, and create new avenues for better opportunities.
Empowering women and promoting gender inequality is the need of the hour. In a post-pandemic era, many girls have been unfairly discriminated against. Ending all forms of discrimination is not just a basic human right, it is the collective responsibility of all governments.
Every year, the United Nations sets a theme and agenda for the International Girl Child Day. The theme for 2021 is “Digital Generation. Our Generation.” This year, the Gender Equality Forum is committed to reducing the digital divide, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
Background and history of International Day of the Girl Child
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is the most progressing outline for advancing the rights of girls and creating an equal platform. This blueprint is not just for women but puts a special emphasis on girl children’s rights.
This outline was unitedly adopted in 1995, at the World Conference on Women in Beijing.
On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly committed itself to the empowerment of women by adopting Resolution 66/170 and declaring October 11 every year as the International Day Of The Girl Child. October 11 stands for the efforts of recognizing and acknowledging the unique challenges faced by young girls across the globe.
Today, many issues haunt the development of young girls, and their transition from childhood into adolescence, and later, adults. Thus, the International Girl Child Day focuses its attention to address the problems faced by girls and commits itself to introducing bold challenges for the fulfillment of human rights.
Every girl has the right to a safe, protected, educated, and healthy life. For girls to progressively mature into women, they need equal opportunities for education and employment, as men. If girls are effectively supported and encouraged during their formative years, they have the potential to make waves and change the world.
Empowered girls of today and tomorrow can become anything they want to. As Hillary Clinton stands for, “To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
Children are investments of the future. Therefore, to provide them with a prosperous and equitable future, their rights need to be upheld. Girls break barriers and stereotypes every day, including the ones projected at young girls with disabilities and the ones from the marginalized sections of society.
Women such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Maya Angelou, Kamala Harris, Rosa Luxemburg, Opal Tometi, and others have scripted history. Similarly, if given the opportunity, young girls of today can be initiators of global movements, and trailblazers of their generation.
In 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This embodies a roadmap for a sustainable and progressive future that will leave no one behind. Striving for gender equality is central to each of these 17 goals.
Only by empowering young women, the world will get to inclusion and justice, and create an equitable climate for future generations. It must be remembered that the future isn’t female. The future is inclusive.
International Day Of The Girl Child 2021: Digital Generation, Our Generation
The pandemic accelerated the need for digital platforms and online learning. Unfortunately, around 2.2 billion people under the age of 25 still do not have access to smartphones and the internet.
The gender gap for global internet users increased from 11 percent in 2013 to about 17 percent in 2019. However, girls are most likely to be cut off.
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In the world’s least developed countries, the education of boy children is prioritized. Families that cannot afford the education of both children, prioritize the male children’s schooling. This is true even in the case of online schooling and providing laptops and the internet to children.
Girls are way less likely than boys to have access to devices and the internet. Furthermore, they also have relatively less access to tech-related skills and jobs. The pandemic has brought such stark realities to life.
The world requires a digital revolution. By addressing this inequity and exclusion concerning the digital divide can we usher in a digital revolution for upcoming generations. Girl children should have access to quality education even in an online school scenario. This is the only way to ensure a dignified life for them.
How to get involved?
Everyone needs to do their part for the upliftment of girl children. Here are ways in which you can get involved in the International Day of the Girl Child 2021 celebrations:
- Get in touch with women-led organizations that aim to provide better access to education for girl children.
- Volunteer in your community or local school to teach girl students.
- Make donations to organizations that are committed to education for girl children.
- Spread awareness regarding the digital divide. Share stories, blogs, and videos of inspiring trailblazers and organizations that are developing solutions to lead the digital revolution.
- Young people around the world are leading a digital activism campaign to raise concerns regarding the digital divide. You can volunteer to be a part of such youth-led digital activation.