Since 2012, October 11th has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
This year’s theme was: GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable
Global charities working in the gender equality and women’s space ran a number of parallel campaigns to highlight the progress needed to advance the rights of girls around the world.
Unicef ran a campaign to mobilise The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Platform for Action, now in its 25th year, remains a powerful foundation for assessing progress on gender equality. It calls for a world where every girl and woman can realise all her rights, such as to live free from violence, to attend and complete school, to choose when and whom she marries, and to earn equal pay for equal work.
The Platform for Action specifically calls on the global community to:
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls.
- Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls.
- Promote and protect the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potential.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition.
- Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect young girls at work.
- Eradicate violence against girls.
- Promote girls’ awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.
- Strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of girls.
Partners and stakeholders came together on Friday #DayOfTheGirl to mark progress on the Beijing Declaration, and to equip girls with the power, knowledge and space to continue to voice their passions and concerns.
I believe that we all need to work together to reinforce girls’ rights to a safe childhood, to an education, to the future they want.
Plan International’s campaign this year continued the global #GirlsTakeover – a call to action for radical social and political change to tear down barriers of discrimination and prejudice that continue to hold girls back.
Across the world hundreds of girls stepped into the roles of media, entertainment, business and politics for a day to demand equal power, freedom and representation for girls and young women. Through the #GirlsTakeover, girls occupied spaces where they are rarely seen or heard and made it clear that they have the right to be there without being silenced or ignored.
In partnership with the Geena Davis Institute, a focus of the #GirlsTakeover was #RewriteHerStory, a campaign demanding radical change in the portrayal of girls and young women in films and entertainment, textbooks, advertising, in video games and through all forms of communication.
As educators we need to consider the choices we make in our curriculum, in our texts, in the role models we present to our students. We need to challenge stereotypes, beliefs and attitudes reinforced by media and entertainment as these portrayals influence how the world views girls and how they view themselves.
Plan UK’s campaign focused on body image as the reality is that girls around the world, including in the UK, are missing out on achieving their dreams, because they are worried about their body image. From the images they see in the media to harmful comments at school, girls experience huge pressure around their appearance. Feeling the pressures of conforming to societal expectations of their gender, many girls withdraw by refusing to go to school, by missing job interviews and by not having their voices heard.
I am hopeful that many of you would agree that it is society that needs the makeover. We need to strive to #ListenToGirls about body image and reinforce the message that they can reach their goals and fulfil their potential.
To find out more about how you can support girls in fulfilling their potential I am working with @LeanInOrg and the Sheryl Sandberg Foundation. We have launched a handle on Twitter called @LeanInGirlsUK and are asking schools to pledge to launch circles, safe spaces for girls to find and use their voices.