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

October 15, 2013

Happy International Day of the Girl

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Published on LinkedIn Influencers, October 10, 2013

When I was a little girl I believed I could do anything. My favorite television show was Super Friends, and my favorite superhero was (and still is) Wonder Woman. I would twirl into that iconic costume, I would catch the bad guys, and I would fly around in my invisible plane, and not once did it ever occur to me that I couldn’t do something because I was girl.

And then I grew up. While I have faced few barriers because of my sex this is not the case for countless other females. I learned that the world is not a fair place for man or woman, but there remains staggering inequalities between men and women in every country in the world. My life’s work has become about trying to make the world better for everyone, but with a focus on women and girls.

Today marks the second annual International Day of the Girl Child, a resolution of the United Nations that was sponsored by the Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, Rona Ambrose, in 2011. Originally a project of Plan International, the International Day of the Girl Child was declared by the United Nations to fall on October 11th each year, beginning in 2012, with the declaration:

“On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”

“Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”

This year, the theme of the International Day of the Girl Child is “Innovating for Girls’ Education”, as it is estimated that approximately 66 million girls worldwide do not have access to formal education. When young girls are educated, they are more likely to break out of poverty, less likely to be abused or exploited, and have a far more positive impact on their communities and the world at large socially, economically, and politically.

Throughout the world, there are over 1,500 events planned to help celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, and advocate to the masses that the under-valuation of girls is the world’s biggest untapped resource. By arming our young girls with knowledge, we are giving them the tools to empower themselves and make a difference in their communities. Studies have shown that by simply educating girls, the cycle of poverty could be broken in just one generation. That’s the power of education, and the reason why October 11th is so important.

Today, I am a mother to a daughter, a young girl I have watched grow from a tiny beautiful baby into an amazing young woman, and while I have tried to instill in her the belief that she can accomplish anything she sets out to do, I know that we still have a long way to go before my daughter, and my son, will live in a truly just world.

Photo: My daughter and I at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

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