International Day of the Girl is a day for girls and boys alike, all around the world, to reflect on the barriers that girls everywhere face in pursuit of getting an education. It is a day to campaign collectively and think about solutions to breaking down these barriers as a progressive world. It is a day to spread the news and raise the voices of girls all around the world who are left silenced and uneducated.
International Day of the Girl is important because educating the girls of our world can only bring positive change. Educated girls can be financially empowered and independent. Educated girls are healthier and decide when and whom to marry. They decide when to have children and how many. International Day of the Girl is the first step to informing women and men all around the world upon these women and girls’ issues and step two, to orchestrating a change.
Participating in International Day of the Girl was an experience for me like no other. I have never felt such a part of something so large and so important to people all around the world. It is every person’s duty to play a role to help girls to an equal playing field and conditions as boys, a large process that starts with informing and spreading the word. I am proud and honored to be a part of this first step in contributing and helping organize the International Day of the Girl assembly at LREI. Seeing the passion and excitement my classmates possessed was truly moving.
While sharing with my classmates, I discussed with the audience a few of the many reasons that girls worldwide might be denied education. I spoke about how girls living in impoverished and underdeveloped regions are commonly obligated to stay home and do housework, take care of younger siblings while parents work, or are in many cases sent off to work to raise money for the family themselves. I also spoke about how if the family is able to put together enough money to put their children through school, boys, in many cases, are given priority over girls within the family.
I discussed how fewer than 50% of girls above the age of 11 attend secondary school in developing countries, and in many cases this is due to governmental or religious laws or restrictions towards women’s education. In these instances, boys are given priority over girls to go to school over girls. I mentioned how in many underdeveloped and poorer regions girls and women are victims of political unrest or rebellion activity, therefore making school unsafe for children and more specifically, girls. In addition, it is not safe for girls to travel long ways alone in order to go to school. In these situations and ones related to it, girls are subject to kidnapping, rape, and other physical abuse.
I feel that my classmates as well as I played a large role in enlightening our audience about the facts and struggles of girls all around the world as well as presenting some of the solutions to these problems. My particular section was a fact-based piece that informed the audience about the reasons for girls having a lack of education in many undeveloped and poorer regions around the world.
Through our feminism class we have studied different barriers set in the path of women in different regions of the world as well as in the United States. We have read, listened, and discussed the stories of many young women. We have discussed excerpts from the writings of famous feminist activists such as Audre Lorde as well as pieces dealing with intersectionality, an important aspect to understanding the true meaning of feminist theory, from authors like Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz.
In addition, we have traveled the world via documentaries and guest speakers to understand and learn about gender bias and gender barriers. The PBS special Half the Sky explores the daily struggles girls face as they try to get an education in poor, underdeveloped countries such as India, Ethiopia, Vietnam, etc. In this film we learned about the lives of girls like Miyan, a young Vietnamese girl with a passion for learning. She travels 17 miles by bicycle and boat in order to go to school. She travels alone which brings a safety issue to herself like it does all girls in underdeveloped and impoverished regions.
Safety concerns such as verbal harassment, kidnapping, rape, and other kinds of physical abuse are all pressing for these girls. We also learned about the young girls in India whose dreams of an education are being threatened by the constant possibility of being sold into India’s commercial sex trade. Other organizations that we have explored include 10×10 and the Girl Effect, both of which stress the importance of educating girls.
Educating girls is a colossal issue worldwide and one that needs to be tackled as soon as possible and with great commitment and care.