Let’s support International Day of the Girl

Abby Ballard on October 17, 2017

Wednesday, 11 October, marked the International Day of the Girl.

It’s funny when days like these come around – including, International Women’s Day – how some people wonder why they should exist.

As someone who works in the media, and moderates the comments of hundreds of people each day, the question of why always rises its head.

“Excuse me, why don’t you think of the men?”

“But hasn’t feminism gotten everything you needed! You guys can vote now!”

Except, it’s usually filled with far more CAPITAL LETTERS, sentences ended with unnecessary exclamation marks (!!!!!!!), and an expletive here and there.

You get the gist. It’s the online world.

Unfortunately, I don’t always get the time to structure a full essay in response, justifying why not only the International Day of the Girl exists but why organisations, like the Mamamia Women’s Network, draw so much attention to it.

 

This year, via our flagship website Mamamia, we celebrated International Day of the Girl in a completely new way.

We invited Room to Read, an international educational charity, to do a take-over of our social media. We developed a handful of videos, case studies, graphics, and articles that raised awareness for the cause and the charity. More on Room to Read, later.

room to read mamamia
Part of our partnership with Room to Read.

From working with them, this is what we learnt:

Today, more than 40,000 girls will become child brides. That’s 28 girls every minute entering into forced marriages.

5,500 girls today will give birth, who are under the age of 14. 200 girls under the age of 14 will die from complications of that birth.

Every 10 minutes, an adolescent girl will die from violence.

And today, 65 million girls will not go to school.

That last statistic is the one to keep in mind because as we know, an education changes everything.

For a girl, an education means that they will avoid falling into one of the above statistics.  Their marriages are delayed, they have children later in life, they are more likely to live through childbirth and they are more likely to have healthy, well-fed children.  An education grows a girl’s  confidence and makes her more likely to seek and be employed, and an educated girl is more likely to educates their children, which often ends the cycle of inter-generational illiteracy.

shiza shahid quote

 

That’s why we partnered with Room to Read, who give girls the opportunity to go to school both through the provision of resources as well as advocating for education.

It is true that in Australia, our girls do not always face the same extent of trauma but there are still many living in vulnerable situations or with an outdated frame of reference.   

While an exposition of horrifying statistics about the status of girls internationally can paralyse some, it’s also not the whole intention of the day.

The day is both a reminder and a celebration of the girl– where she has come from, where she is now, and where we can help her go.

Mamamia wasn’t the only brand who embraced the International Day of the Girl. Singer, Beyonce, released a new music video from her Lemonade track, “Freedom” that pressed support for The Global Goals #FreedomForGirls campaign. Dove followed by releasing another initiative focussed on body image for young women, and global appliance company, Electrolux, profiled one of their senior female engineers to encourage girls in the STEM industries.

queen rania of jordan quote

These brands helped to prompt both girls and the rest of the population to remain aware of their  achievements, struggles, ambitions and curiosities.

This is why we have a day – a whole day – to celebrate the girl. To keep them in your mind.

Whoever you imagine the girl to be, whether she is Nisha from a rural village in India who couldn’t afford to go to school or Clare, the girl next door, who struggles with confidence, keep the girl in mind.

To everyone wondering why we celebrated Wednesday with such love and excitement, here is my letter to you.

We are not done. Girls have so much more to live for. Girls have so much more to give.

Don’t just watch them, support them.

You can donate to Room to Read, here.

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