#DayoftheGirl: International Day Of The Girl Child!

Published: October 12, 2015

#DayoftheGirl: International Day Of The Girl Child!, When I think of the things I worry about when it comes to my two daughters, 9 and 13, I’m kind of ashamed.

Should I have let Esther quit violin? Am I holding Isla back by not signing up for ballet because it involves too much driving? Am I a mean mom for not letting Esther have a smart phone before she graduates from 8th grade? Should I prod Isla to call her friend and apologize or should I stay out of her social life? Should I make Esther join the math club? Will letting them watch the Disney Channel turn them into spoiled brats who care about nothing but fashion?

Yeah. Embarrassing. Made more so after learning that today is International Day of the Girl. (Also known as International Day of the Girl Child.) With just a tiny bit of Googling, I learned that, in less privileged parts of the world, 380, 000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV each year. I also discovered that, according to Save the Children, girls are more than 3 times as likely to not go to school than boys.

In an official statement from UN Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo Mgcuka, said:

“We are calling for all countries to repeal discriminatory laws that create barriers for girls, whether to attend school, to access the healthcare they need, to qualify for decent jobs and earn equal pay.
We know we have an extraordinarily long way to go to achieve what we want for our 15-year-olds. But they must know that they, and all their siblings, are in the spotlight. Today is the Day when we focus our attention on the Girl Child, but it is not a day in isolation. It is part of a massive and relentless drive towards a world of equality: a Planet 50-50 by 2030.”
Girls are equal members of society, sources of hope for the future – investments worth making! #dayofthegirl pic.twitter.com/QbmpG7TO7i

– UN Foundation (@unfoundation) October 10, 2015

For #DayoftheGirl, give a girl the opportunity to succeed & make her own choices in life: http://t.co/6CsR7xfQS3 pic.twitter.com/NL7jgOm5Fj

– Save the Children US (@SavetheChildren) October 10, 2015

What can empowering one girl do? It can change the world http://t.co/Cf0uhJAdNO#dayofthegirlpic.twitter.com/5iQnNr9heS

– UNICEF (@UNICEF) October 9, 2015

This is a day and a cause I can get behind, because, as a human being, I feel that a world that does not value its female inhabitants in the exact same way it values its male inhabitants, is neither sustainable nor tolerable. While I weigh the pros and cons of the various forms of extracurricular enrichment available to my children, other moms are resigned to the fact that the only feasible solution is to marry their daughters off at age 13.

I don’t know where to begin to explain these painful doses of reality to my children. My oldest is growing keenly aware of the injustices of the world, and it makes her angry. It’s so simple in her mind: “Girls are no less than boys.”

But, with the help of Malala, whose misfortune of being shot for going to school in her native Pakistan coincided with an awakening in my daughter, Esther, to the educational obstacles of girls around the world, I think many young girls living in wealthy countries have begun to recognize the privileges that they’ve always considered normal. And, also with the help of Malala, who continues to fight for the rights of girls to receive education, many of those same young girls have also discovered a whole new concept of courage and leadership.

So all I can do, and all any of us can do, is do my best to remind my children, every day, that we are more than our gender. To remind them that the human brain and the human heart are the great equalizers. That nowhere is it written that male brains are more capable of learning, leading and succeeding than female brains and nowhere is it written that female hearts are any more capable of love, patience, and compassion than male hearts.

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