International Day of the Girl is celebrated each year on October 11th as declared by the United Nations as a way to give girls a platform to raise their voices and demand equality of rights, education, and health, and to commemorate underprivileged girls. This year was the International Day of the Girls’ 10th Anniversary and to start things off UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres prepared a powerful speech: “Girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protections needed for a life without violence. COVID-19 has worsened existing burdens on girls around the world and worn away important gains made over the last decade. Now more than ever, we must renew our commitment to work together so that girls enjoy and exercise their rights and can play a full and equal part in their communities and societies. Investing in girls is investing in our common future. Girls are ready for a decade of acceleration forward. It is time for us all to stand accountable – with and for girls – and to invest in a future that believes in their agency, leadership, and potential.”
The International Day of the Girl is meant for us to come together and listen to girls’ lived experiences, stories, and interests, engage with critical female influencers, and amplify our commitment to helping girls all around the globe have an opportunity to live their dream. The Working Group on Girls (WGG) has done a wonderful job organizing the IDG 2022 this year for us to be able to do just that by arranging the Girls Speak Out event to honor and acknowledge girls for being brave and powerful when facing challenges in their daily lives. The first girl that was commemorated at the Girls Speak Out event was Amanda Zulu, a girl activist representing The Grail from South Africa who led discussions on climate justice during this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (NGO CSW), who was violently attacked and murdered just as preparations began for IDG 2022. Amanda Zulu spoke out and stood up for what she believed in, the fight for women’s rights, and for that, she was commemorated.
Another girl activist that spoke at the IDG 2022 Girls Speak Out event is Maka Chikowero, the founder and president of the MTC Educate A Girl Foundation. The MTC Educate A Girl Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports girls’ education, access to schooling, and economic opportunity. More than 62 million girls are out of school right now and millions more are fighting to stay in school. The educational value placed on a boy versus the educational value placed on a girl are disparate. Maka is determined to not only combat the education discrepancies between boys and girls but to provide underprivileged girls with a foundation to thrive. Maka, who is from Zimbabwe, promised girls from rural areas of her home country to be a voice for them, especially those who lack the platforms to speak up for themselves. And since, Maka has supported orphaned girls and girls from low-income areas in Zimbabwe to stay in school, play a sport, learn entrepreneurial skills, and fight period poverty, all through the work of her foundation. The MTA Educate A Girl Foundation also provides educational scholarships, school uniforms, school supplies, sanitary products, and sports equipment to girls in rural Zimbabwe. Maka has kept her promise to these underprivileged girls, and it is important we all continue to make and fulfill promises and work toward gender equality.
The International Day of the Girl 2022 is a vital celebration that looks back on ten years of efforts for the fulfillment of girls’ rights globally. However, as we honor the achievements and strengths of adolescent girls, we also need to acknowledge the deep global challenges against progress. We continue to witness the harmful impact of discrimination based on gender and the rollback of girls’ rights, whether in climate, education, or physical and mental well-being. UN Women has estimated that women and girls will not achieve full equality with men and boys for another 300 years. It is important that we all continue to make commitments to advance gender equality and uplift girl leaders all around the globe. The Girls Speak Out event has provided us all an opportunity to learn from a new generation of change-makers. Girls deserve gender equality. Girls deserve empowerment. “Our time is now- our rights, our future!”