International Day of the Girl is October 11 each year. On that day, we recognize the struggles and triumphs of girls globally and we speak out on girls’ issues.
I am a sixteen year old girl whose birthday is June 2. Personally, I believe that International Day of the Girl should be on June 2. I believe that International Day of the Girl should also be on June 1, 3, 4, 5, and October 10, 12, 13.
I believe that International Day of the Girl should be all 365 days of the year. Each and every day, girls around the world of all ages should be encouraged to question their environments, to pick up a pen and paper or a book, to declare their bodies their own, and feel empowered to speak their and OUR silences.
In my mind, every day has become International Day of the Girl. It has taken me a while, but finally I have become aware of the power of one single voice, even if that begins with discovering my own.
In my high school feminism class, I have not only heard the voices of the greatest feminists, but have taken on the role of becoming my own force. A quote I love by fierce and fabulous feminist Audre Lorde is: “Your silence will not protect you.”
This line has made me really think about myself. I have thought a lot about silence and the role it plays on girls. My whole life, I have been burdened by silence. In my Puerto Rican family, it is seen as virtuous for a girl, a young girl especially, to be seen but not heard. My opinion did not matter because for me being a child and a girl, I had no choice. I, like many girls worldwide and daily, experienced a forced silence by my culture and later, my inhibitions.
No matter how much I disagreed with what was being said around me or how much I hated that I was not outspoken or confident, all of these forces silenced me, and kept me vulnerable and scared.
Silence is what destroys relationships, families, and humanity. Silence has made the girl who was raped blame herself, blame her actions, her clothing and has made her question all of the above. Silence has forced girls to stay home and not pursue their education because it does not matter to those around her. Silence has held us all back at one point or another because we are scared of what we truly want and think because it may not always be a part of the status quo, because our parents and culture will disown us.
We need to realize that things unsaid are never changed. The oppressors will continue to oppress. We girls have been taught that our silence will make us good girls, better wives, and submissive lovers; these are the only roles we have been given since birth.
Yet, I will not be silenced.
No, I will not. And I am not going to let my sisters, my best friends, my classmates, my fellow girls worldwide be silenced. Not only will I speak out on International Day of the Girl, but since everyday must be International Day of the Girl, that means that every day is another day where my hopes, my dreams, my struggles, and my fears will not be silenced.
I admire all of those women and girls who speak out against the current, when all odds are against them. I still struggle in my own battle with silence. After learning about Malala Yousafzai, a sixteen year old girl from Pakistan who was shot in the face by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ education, I really felt the power of our voice as girls.
As much as our society and culture tells us that we are weaker than that of boys and men, it is up to us to realize that they are wrong. They want to silence us, because as Malala Yousafzai said in her inspiring UN speech: “They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
It is also as Chicana feminist Cherríe Moraga says in her essay titled “La Guera” “[our oppressors] fear [they] will have to change [their] life once [they] have seen themselves in the bodies of the people he had called different. [They] fear the hatred, anger and vengeances of those [they] have hurt.”
That is why it is necessary for us to speak out. The more and more we silence ourselves, the more we succumb to our oppressors and feed their egos. We as girls have to be taught and feel the empowerment of our sisterhood. If not, we will never see a brighter future for girls’ education, girls’ health, female sexuality, our own self worth, etc.
We have to raise our voices because we will be heard. We have to raise our voices and make every day International Day of the Girl because NOTHING is stronger than GIRL POWER!