In these modern times it seems every day of the year is dedicated to some cause, movement or idea, that builds a social media frenzy before whittling back into the sea of current events. While all these ideas are noteworthy, celebrating Day of the Girl 2013 is about one of those oft-overlooked, paramount issues in our global society that deserves far more than one day of celebration. Gender equality and sexual discrimination are problems that have persisted through centuries of human history, across cultures worldwide, placing women at a disadvantage in both developing and developed countries alike. The role of women in our society, simply put, is one of the most fundamental issues we are so slowly facing in our world today.
The United Nations Day of the Girl was founded only recently in 2012 after a successful campaign led by School Girls Unite, an organization made up of students and young women leaders determined to realize the United Nations Millenium Development Goals related to gender equality and basic universal education. Their stated mission goal is: to “highlight, discuss, celebrate and ultimately advance girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe.” Addressing the neglect and devaluation of women worldwide is at the heart of this awareness campaign.
The focus of this year’s Day of the Girl is on education. The emphasis on “innovating for girls education” is acknowledgment that knowledge is one of the most powerful tools you can have, especially for women. In the words of Kakenya Ntaiya, “An educated girl will delay marriage, she is more likely to have fewer children, her children are more likely to go to school, and she will contribute to the economy of her country.” In light of these concepts, education is obviously something we take for granted. While our education system is considerably underfunded and ripe for improvement, what we have remains an opportunity tens of millions of young girls around the globe are denied access to. We should remember that despite our progress, there are so many achievements yet to be made as a global community, and educating girls on an equal plane as boys is a crucial cog in that universal progress.
Celebrating Day of the Girl encompasses not just advocacy for the education of girls, but also strengthening our own awareness. We must make the effort to take action, come to understand the gender role disparities deeply rooted in our social consciousness. It is up to us to ensure this Day of the Girl grows past this one day of recognition into a substantial matter across the globe. For all the problems facing girls, and they are numerous (violence against women, forced marriage, less rights, denied access to education, lack of economic opportunity, among others) understanding the incredible value that can be gained by placing them on equal footing as their male counterparts is the best step towards positively transforming our society in ways that we have yet to imagine.