Did you know that the International Day of the Girl Child is Oct. 11? The holiday is only seven years old — the same age of many at-risk girls around the globe who are forced to work long hours to help support their families or to simply survive.
In 2017, UNICEF created this video (with a nod to Beyoncé) in honor of girls around the world:
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) October 11, 2017
The U.S. arm of the campaign has a little history lesson for you: In December 2011, the United Nations declared Oct. 11 the International Day of the Girl Child “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” (You can read the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the International Day of the Girl Child too.)
According to the United Nations, the day “aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”
This Oct. 11 kicks off the theme and yearlong effort, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce. The campaign seeks to “bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.”
This is no easy task — 600 million adolescent girls will enter the world’s workforce in the next 10 years, and more than 90 percent of those who live in developing countries will work in the informal sector — and that’s where low pay (or no pay), exploitation, abuse and risk for human trafficking are the greatest.
According to the U.N., there is a huge demand for educated and skilled workers, but “roughly a quarter of young people — most of them female — are currently neither employed or in education or training.”
What can you do to make a difference in this effort? How you can best honor girl children on Oct. 11 — and all year long? We’ve got a few ideas we think you’ll like.
1. Visit a nursing home to learn about a resident’s childhood
Ask a local nursing home if there’s a resident who rarely has visitors — someone who might welcome the chance to talk about her life as a young girl. Take your little ones (and a big bouquet of flowers), and make a new friend who’s likely endured challenges many kids can’t imagine today.
2. Celebrate the amazing stories of the women & girls in your own family
Talk about the different kinds of girl power that seem to have been passed down — generation after generation. Yank out those dusty albums and frame some special black-and-white photos. Ask Grandma (or another inspiring woman) everything you’ve ever wanted to know about her childhood. (You can break the ice with these 10 questions.) Video the visit, and you might just be amazed what stories you capture for posterity. Your kids — girls and boys — might just thank you someday.
3. Give to charities that focus on the specific needs of girls & women
Need help tracking them down? We’ve got you covered. One of our favorites is Camfed, which “tackles poverty and inequality by supporting marginalised girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change.”
4. Follow social media accounts that stress the importance of fighting for girls
For instance, if you’re an avid Instagrammer, there are plenty of girl-savvy organizations that would love to be part of your feed. One we love is The Global Fund for Women, an organization that invests resources in women-related movements. According to Mashable, the Global Fund for Women is “a support system and resource for people to get involved… the foundation’s philosophy is to simply trust women.” The Global Fund for Women’s website says, “The Global Fund for Women exists to support the tireless and courageous efforts of women’s groups who work every day to win rights for women and girls.” Sign us up.
5. Read fearlessly feminist books with your young ones
Today came up with a killer list of the best feminist kids’ books out there. We’re partial to I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy ($12.59 for the hardcover at Amazon). But then, we’ve never been shy about our RBG love.
So there you go. That should more than get you started on your quest to make the International Day of the Girl Child really matter — at home and around the globe.