Fight for Global Gender Equality Every Day, Not Just Once a Year
October 11th of each year has been crowned by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl. Spoiler alert — it’s a gimmick.
It is a ploy by the UN body to grab the world’s attention and direct it towards global gender inequality. A time-tested marketing strategy to make something pop out of all the noise. And guess what? All of us working on behalf of the world’s girls are in cahoots.
Globally, everyone is talking about girls and the need to improve girls education. If you don’t know who Malala is, your head’s been deep in sand. Yet, despite the chatter and buzz, the need for change still far exceeds response.
Google the statistics about girls: out of school; forced to marry when still children; female-genital mutilation; dying in childbirth; forced into labor or slavery. Then weigh those stats against the government investments; development aid dollars; the number of dedicated organizations working on the issue. One side of the scale touches the ground.
When I contemplate the motivation behind declaring one day a year dedicated to girls, I think of a young toddler seeking attention. They will place one hand on each side of your face and get their face up close to yours. Gently but firmly they turn the parent’s head so they are eye to eye. The toddler is essentially saying, “Look at me.”
All of us working to create new pathways so millions of girls can transcend their circumstances — be it through advocacy or on the ground — are “the toddler,” gently but firmly trying to turn faces, trying to say, “Pay attention.” This issue is real. It is deep, it is fierce. Girls are being robbed of their own lives and the suppression of girls keeps our world from being its best self.
What is International Day of the Girl? A gimmick for all the best reasons. It is a day of hope and possibility. It is a day which calls on all of us to be our best, to be proactive, to be generous. It is a day acknowledging an issue of significant consequence to our society, while also encouraging us to do something about it.
Today, we turn to you, gently put one hand on each side of your face, turn you towards us, and say, “Join us to help the world’s girls.” That’s the power of IDG. Are you ready?
Anne Robinson Wadsworth is the executive director of Buffalo-based Girls Education Collaborative, seeking to bring social change through the power of girls education.
*This was originally posted on Medium.