This Sunday, October 11, is the International Day of the Girl, even more significant this year as it is the silver anniversary of its founding. According to the official website, twenty-five years ago, some 30,000 women and men from nearly 200 countries arrived in Beijing, China, for the Fourth World Conference on Women, determined to recognize women’s rights as human rights. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: the most comprehensive policy agenda for gender equality. It became a significant day for girls because it made a bold statement at the conference calling for the end of discrimination against girls and eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls. And so the International Day of the Girl was born. Since then every year on 11 October, youth organizations like Girl Scouts pause to uplift girls on the International Day of the Girl. This year the theme is “My voice, our equal future”, with a goal to reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls – energized and recognized, counted and invested in.
Why have a Day of the Girl? For the same reason we have Girl Scouts. Girls are a rare gem in this world. Girl Scouts are equally prized. No other organization is solely dedicated to making the world a better place by inspiring girls of courage, confidence and character. This week, Girl Scouts announced twelve National Gold Girl Scouts. All twelve of them are gifted leaders who came up with sustainable solutions to intractable problems tackling such difficult problems from texting while driving to food scarcity. Listening to their enlightened projects, I know the creativity of girls continue to be the secret sauce to help make such a difference. Each Gold Award project was as bold in its goals as it was in its execution to ultimately make the world a better place. A second element for each girl honoree was strength. All twelve Gold girls faced immense obstacles in their project. All twelve persevered. All twelve succeeded. Throughout history, girls have shown incredible strength. Take a recent example: Malala, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She stood up for girls attending school in her native Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, where the local Pakistani Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement, and many consider her the most prominent citizen in Pakistan.
In the same vein, Anne Frank was a symbol of hope during the darkest period in human history, the holocaust. Through her diary, through her eyes, we find forgiveness and incredible strength. The International Day of the Girl honors girls like Malala and Anne. Our world sits on a better axis because of the courage of them; paradoxically, when titanium strength is shown from someone you would not expect to be that strong, it emboldens us all. Juliette Gordon Low saw this same strength in girls in 1912…realizing it was time for action, she called her cousin explaining “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah , and all America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.” 50 million alumni later, Juliette was right, she changed the world for the better. Creativity and strength blossomed forth and her girls went on to show why we need a Day of the Girl. Because when the power of the promise is unleashed, nothing can stop us now. The 2020 National Gold Girl Scouts are yet another manifestation of unleashing girl power.
My [girl] voice, my equal future. You bet! Juliette put her faith in girls 100 years ago. Today, we do the same. The strength of that girl voice assures us that our future will not only be equal, it will be better. Now that is something to celebrate.. Day of the Girl, here we come!