Jacki Zehner On Women, Money, and Changing the World  » International Day of the Girl

October 11, 2012

International Day of the Girl


Today is the FIRST International Day of the Girl created by the United Nations for the purpose of bringing focus to the unique issues that affect girls, to speak out against gender bias and to advocate for girls rights everywhere.

We picked this special day to do our FIRST Women Moving Millions press release as our mission and purpose is so closely aligned with what this day is all about! Please click here to view that release.  In this op-ed, together with founding board member Margot Franssen, we issue a call to action for us all to support our girls! A world that is better for girls, is a world better for everyone.

Be sure to watch the video featured above and please help us make it go viral. In partnership with Global Girl Media we asked girls around the world ‘what would they do with a million dollars?’ We got some outstanding answers!

Excerpt from Op-ed appearing on Women Moving Millions website:

Why Girls? Because women and girls make up half of the world’s population, but hold just 1% of the world’s wealth. For every year a girl goes to school, her income as an adult increases by 10 to 20 percent.  And girls are key to a country’s economic success: Closing the educational gender gap adds 1.5 percent to a country’s GDP every year, a substantial number for any developing nation. Higher education rates, better access to health care and increased gender equality lead to lower infant mortality rates, greater economic prosperity and healthier populations across the board. In other words, what is good for girls is good for everyone.

Yet too many girls never get to realize their potential. Of the 600 million girls in developing nations, a quarter are not in school. A quarter to a half of girls in developing countries become mothers before they turn 18. One in seven are married before their 15th birthday. As many as 1.2 million girls are trafficked every year.

The problems aren’t confined to the developing world. Girls in the U.S. are doing better in school, but still face inordinate amounts of violence: More than half of all female rape victims are under 18, and one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. And sexualization has been shown to have profoundly detrimental impacts on girls’ cognitive functions and their mental, physical and sexual health.

More than half (54%) of 3rd-5th grade girls worry about their appearance and 37% worry about their weight. More than half (57%) of music videos feature a female portrayed exclusively as a decorative, sexual object.

So why today? The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2011 to establish October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. To spread the word School Girls Unite collaborated with girls around the US to help spread the word and use the Day as an opportunity to educate others about gender inequality and the many other issues affecting girls.

There are so many ways to connect and act. First, visit the Day of the Girl website  and download the official Day of the Girl toolkit which has resources and information about how you can get involved. Check out the The Girl Effect, The Girl Scouts and Girls Inc. which are organizations that aim to make a better world for girls through support and advocacy.

SUPPORT! There are so many amazing organizations such as the ones I listed above and many more whose purpose is to support and foster girls to become strong leaders and individuals and protect their rights. Here are a few more organizations that are doing amazing work.

SPARK – SPARK is a girl-fuel activist movement to demand an end to the sexualization of women and girls in the media. In support of International Day of the Girl, SPARK and the NYC Mayors office is holding a reception and celebration in the city with “Performance, Poetry and Prose by Girls in NYC” Join them or support their work!

GEMS – Girls Educational & Mentoring Services is the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. (See my blog on Rachel Lloyd GEMS founder). Support GEMS to help bring and end to the 1.2 millions girls that are trafficked every year.

10×10 film is producing a series, Girls Rising, the stories of 10 girls, from 10 countries around the world with the goal to deliver a message: ‘educating girls in developing nations will change the world.’ TODAY I made a pledge to support this landmark project. Join me!

For your mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, friends- all the women in your life make a fresh commitment to support the rights and leadership of girls.  A better world for girls is a better world for everyone!

 

 


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