International Day of the Girl Child

International Day of the Girl Child

Reflection

Since 2012, the United Nations marks 11 October as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. The day promotes girls’ human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. This year, the theme is Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence. It is singular that it was just announced that Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage education campaigner shot on school bus in 2012 by a Taliban gunman, is one of the winners of the 2014 Nobel peace prize. Malala, now 17, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago in Pakistan after coming to prominence for her campaigning for education for girls. She won for what the Nobel committee called her “heroic struggle” for girls’ right to an education. She is the youngest ever winner of the prize.
Girls face double discrimination due to their gender and age, and are the most marginalized and discriminated group across the globe. Millions of girls around the world are denied their basic rights – from the right to an education to the right to be protected from violence. Girls face unique challenges simply because of their gender. The UN has signaled its commitment to end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence, and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls. In a world where we are increasingly becoming aware of the unity of all creation, in a country that talks about “family values”, tolerating this continued gender discrimination based in patriarchal social and religious conditioning is deplorable.

Prayer

May there be …neither slave nor free, or male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:8

Action

Whether you are male or female examine your attitude toward girls. How do advertising and TV entrench derogatory attitudes toward females? How do they affect young girls’ images of themselves and what is expected of them? Why is feminism considered a negative quality? If you are a parent, what are your norms for your male and female children? What concepts are you engendering?

Suggested Reading

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belong the kingdom of heaven”.
Matthew 19:14

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6

I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.
Hillary Clinton

For such a long time, people have disrespected us, and have thought men are superior. But this is our time. We need to protect our rights.
Twelve-year-old Annabelle, Oakland Mills Middle School in Columbia, Md.

Girls can effect the changes necessary to achieve the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as boys so they may fulfill their dreams.
Joanne Conelley

I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex.
Katharine Hepburn

When an individual is kept in a situation of inferiority, the fact is that he does become inferior.
Simone de Beauvoir

It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the country. The explorers were men, the landholders and merchants men, the political leaders men, the military figures men. The very invisibility of women, the overlooking of women, is a sign of their submerged status.
Howard Zinn

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries. At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities…. The truth is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.
Jimmy Carter

25,000 girls become child brides every single day.
Half of all girls in the developing world will become underage mothers.
Girls younger than 15 are 5 times more likely to die giving birth than those in their 20s.
Child brides are 2 times as likely to be beaten by their husbands.
A child bride is significantly more likely to become infected with HIV.
Every three seconds, a girl younger than 18 is forced into marriage. The consequences couldn’t be worse. Child marriage diminishes her chances at education, endangers her health, cuts short her personal growth and development and increases the likelihood that she’ll remain poor for life.
Child marriage is a gross human rights violation that puts young girls’ lives at risk and keeps them stuck in poverty.
Child marriage robs 10 million girls a year of their childhood.

Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech by Malala Yousafzai

 

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