International Day of the Girl is being recognized all over the world today. It is a day in which people are encouraged to take a moment or two to think about just how important girls are. This year’s theme focuses on empowering women.
The International Day of the Girl organization declared a “state of emergency” today, drawing attention specifically to the millions of girls who are aren’t getting an education.
Here is what you need to know:
1. International Day of the Girl Started 5 Years Ago
Five years ago, the United Nations decided that October 11 would be known as the International Day of the Girl. According to the movement’s official website, its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
Various groups all over the globe use October 11 to bring girls to the forefront. There are various events held in which girls are the focal point. The day is meant to bring awareness, to share ideas, and to create discussions about girls everything — and about the seemingly constant struggle of girls fighting for equality in all aspects of life.
2. This Year’s Theme Is ‘EmPOWER Girls: Before, During & After Conflict’
The 2017 theme raises awareness of gender-based violence which increases during and after humanitarian emergencies. According to the Metro, this “means girls are more likely to be subjected to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking.”
In addition, there is a focus on child marriage, trafficking, and genital mutilation, which is sadly prevalent all over the globe.
“There are 700 million women alive today who were married before 18 to men much older than themselves. Female genital mutilation is another problem that UNICEF estimates has affected 130 million girls worldwide.”
3. There Is an Emphasis on Education
“Over 130 million girls around the world didn’t go to school today. Millions more braved long distances and dangerous conditions to get to classrooms whose teacher never arrived, or where there were no textbooks or other materials to help them learn,” reports CNN.
In countries like Africa and India, not all girls are able to go to school.
“In India, the projected population of girls in the age group of 6-17 in 2016 was more than 130 million. According to the Education Statistics released by MHRD, the number of girls enrolled in classes 1 to 12, is approximately 120 million. The gap can be estimated at anywhere near 8 to 10 million,” reports NDTV.
Most people would agree that every girl should have a right to an education. In fact, in order for a girl to be truly empowered, one might even argue that she needs an education.
4. Ideas for Recognizing International Day of the Girl
In an op-ed piece for Forbes, Shelley Zalis explained her definition of the word “girl” and how she feels as though the word is a “mindset.”
“I say the word ‘girl’ isn’t about age or life stage; girl is about having a mindset of being bold and brave. It’s about holding on to that sense of wonder and adventure. Men have their ‘Boys Club,’ so I created the Girls’ Lounge for women,” Zalis writes.
She also explained how people can get involved and raise awareness today:
1. Snapping a selfie everywhere you believe girls belong
2. Sharing on social media with the hashtag #GirlsBelongHere
3. Tagging the women and girls who inspire you
Other ways you can take part in Day of the Girl include having open discussions about empowering girls either on social media (using the hashtag #DayOfTheGirl) or with your family and friends. You may also choose to get more involved by volunteering at a local Day of the Girl event — or even starting one yourself.
5. Fortune’s Annual Most Powerful Women Summit Is Taking Place in Washington This Week
The annual Most Powerful Women Summit is currently being held in Washington. The timing of the summit corresponds with the International Day of the Girl. Many of the discussions and speeches that take place at the summit go hand-in-hand with what this particular United Nations’ movement stands for.
“Fortune MPW started as a list 18 years ago and has evolved into the world’s most extraordinary leadership community, convening the preeminent women in business—along with select leaders in government, philanthropy, education and the arts—for wide-ranging conversations that inspire and deliver practical advice. The program features one-on- one interviews, panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions and high-level networking.”