The 11th of October is International Day of the Girl. Today, we raise our voices in support of girls worldwide, and pledge to double our efforts to invest in their future. Not only will today go down in history as being the first ever Day of the Girl, it is also made especially poignant by the case of Malala Yousafzai, who lies unconscious in hospital, having been shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out about the importance of girls’ education.
Reading about the tragedy two days ago, I kept thinking of a picture I had seen a while ago, and I decided to look for it again:
And that’s what the Taliban’s actions have revealed in the end – fear. Because Malala is not just any 14-year-old girl. By publicly condemning the actions of the Taliban and advocating for the education of girls, she represents an idea, a spark towards real social change. And by making an attempt on her life, the Taliban have revealed that they, too, know just how powerful she is.
On this day, then, let her be an inspiration to us all, and while she is silent, let us be her voice, and multiply her message a million times over. Let us express outrage at how 140 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation. How every year, about 10 million girls are married before the age of 18. How women in South Africa are more likely to be raped than to learn to read. How at least one out of every three women worldwide has been abused in her lifetime by someone known to her.
But outrage is not enough. We need to join the fight alongside women and girls everywhere, and there is no better weapon against all this than the education of girls. Please watch this incredibly moving video from It Only Takes a Girl:
To take action for girls, please visit the links below:
UNICEF – Girls’ Education Campaigns
Most importantly, let’s not let the cause be confined to one day in a year. Every day and every girl matters in the struggle for full gender equality.