Known as the Day of Girls, for short, the International Day of the Girl Child is a day that’s observed all over the world to bring a light to and fight the injustices and inequalities faced by girls based on their gender.
The day is marked by efforts both to raise awareness and to offer opportunities to girls and young women, addressing issues like access to education, healthcare rights, career and employment and much more.
History of International Day of the Girl Child
The day was initially a project designed by the non-governmental international organization, Plan International. It was inspired by their “Because I Am A Girl” campaign, which celebrated and encouraged the increasing role of girls and young women in efforts to raise awareness of gender issues across the world.
Eventually, Plan International urged the United Nations to get involved, and the first official Day of Girls took place in 2012, with a resolution backed by the international organization to cement it.
Since then, International Day of the Girl Child has been celebrated with a new theme every year. Those themes tackle the issues girls and young women face, but especially in developing nations where they don’t have as strong a voice advocating for them.
Over the years, worldwide initiatives have been taken with aims such as ending child marriage, innovating education for girls, and training young women with skills to help them excel in the workplace. Since then, thousands of events are planned every year, across the world, both sponsored by the United Nations and by independent initiatives like nonprofits and local organizations.
My Voice, Our Equal Future
Progress for adolescent girls has not kept pace with the realities they face today, and COVID-19 has reinforced many of these gaps. This year, under the theme, “My Voice, Our Equal Future”, let’s seize the opportunity to be inspired by what adolescent girls see as the change they want, the solutions- big and small- they are leading and demanding across the globe.
In 2020, we commemorate 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the global agenda for advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls, everywhere. Generation Equality was also launched in early 2020 as a multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality. A clear narrative and actions related to the needs and opportunities of adolescent girls and their solutions is central to the Generation Equality mission.
As adolescent girls worldwide assert their power as change-makers, International Day of the Girl 2020 will focus on their demands to:
- Live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS
- Learn new skills towards the futures they choose
- Lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change
In 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls. The Beijing Declaration is the first to specifically call out girls’ rights.
On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.
Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.