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International Day of the Girl

Sophie Herdman
By Sophie Herdman Published on 11 October 2012

There are so many great things about being a girl, we should know, we're an (almost!) all female team here at sofeminine.

International Day of the Girl

But there are also many obstacles to overcome - especially for those in countries where women don't have the rights that we have here in the UK.

That's why the United Nation's International Day of the Girl - which is today (October 11th) - has been set up. It's a day dedicated to talking about, celebrating and increasing girls' opportunities around the world.

It's a day when women come together to discuss what they think really matters for girls at the moment - from child marriage to lack of education - and to educate others about discrimination, stereotyping and opportunities.

This is the first International Day of the Girl, and it's all down to a project started by the charity Plan International called 'Because I am a Girl'. It was a project that raised awareness of the help needed by girls around the world, but especially in developing countries.

The International Day of the Girl is also a good way to highlight issues closer to home, such as the sexualisation of young girls that we are increasingly seeing in our society here in the UK.

Dr Jane Pilcher, a University of Leicester sociologist who has written many books on women and gender in today's society says: "Retailers...have been criticised by politicians and interest groups for selling 'sexualised' and 'inappropriate' clothes for girls, like padded bras, thongs, bikinis and high heel shoes....once again it is girls who have been at the centre of these debates.

"So girls (women-to-be) are often seen as a key to many a social and political issue; the U.N.'s designation of 11 October as an annual International Day of the Girl is a timely recognition of this."

Deepali Sood, Director of Plan's Because I am a Girl campaign, said: "Women's empowerment begins with girls' empowerment. Breaking the cycle of gender discrimination requires that we promote and protect the rights of girls."

Go Deepali, we agree!

The International Day of the Girl couldn't have come at a better time either as this week has seen 14 year old campaigner Malala Yousufzai shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan and she is now fighting for her life.

Malala was recognised last year for her activism when she was awarded an international peace prize as she has continually stood up for the rights of girls, on matters like education for girls - something the Taliban strongly opposes.

This is one obscene act against one girl in the world, but it is indicative of a much broader problem - that girls do not yet have the same opportunities and rights as boys. A cause that we can all get behind.

What's going on?

If you want to show your support, then there are plenty of events are going on in more than 60 countries on October 11th. There's a rock concert in India and a radio blitz in Ireland.

Here in England, the London eye will be lit up pink (as will the Empire State Building and Niagra Falls, yes, really!)
There's also an interactive installation - in the form of a large book that highlights the importance of education for girls worldwide - which will be travelling around the country, ending up at London's Southbank on October 11th.

You can pledge your support by signing their petition here or on Facebook. Or...both! Go on, it only takes a few seconds. Or tweet with the hashtag #BecauseofeducationIcan

The facts

Research has found that in the poorest societies, girls are more likely to suffer from malnurtrition, hunger and disease than her brothers.

Girls have less educational and career opportunities. In fact, around the world one in three girls don't even get an education.

In many developing countries, one out of seven girls marries before the age of 15.

Things have to change - and getting behind International Day of the Girl is one small step we can all take to make a difference.

by Sophie Herdman

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