Today is International Day of the Girl Child, when we recognize the rights of girls and the injustices that endanger their gender. We also acknowledge that females under the age of 18 are terrorized and brutalized in places that honor ancient, patriarchal traditions—but these traditions have no place in a modern world where every person, male or female, deserve a dignified future.
The term “girl child“¹ is used around the world to identify the challenges and burdens for females under eighteen years of age. Child marriages are a particular threat. According to an alarming article² in the Huffington Post, a girl under 18 is married off every three seconds. In less than eight years, there could be as many as 50 million child brides under the age of fifteen. These forced unions can lead to rape, beatings, contracted disease, psychological abuse, and even worse. . . stillborn births.
International Day of the Girl Child cannot correct such problems overnight, but identifying the crisis is the first step in solving it. Citizens, awareness groups, and governments are encouraged to come together for the well-being of others. This important day, as described by the Canadian representative to the U.N., reminds the world that girls are “the key to a nation’s prosperity and could contribute to its overall prosperity, when given the opportunity. Together, the world community must make an annual celebration of girls and their potential as agents of change throughout the world.”³
¹ Day of the Girl web page
² Huffington Post article “Marrying off little girls with dolls is playing with fire”
³ United Nations General Assembly document: Draft Text Approved by Third Committee Recognizes Youth as ‘Key Agents for Social Change’, Affirms Investment in Youth Crucial for Sustainable Development