Why International Day of the Girl

By Constance Ndeleko

This day is celebrated because girls are breaking barriers that have been a hinderance in their lives which led to them enduring injustices, sexual violence, unemployment, inequalities, poverty, violation of their rights and oppression. This day highlights their plights and how they can break free.

Thus, in advocating for the rights of girls and women led to the formation of movements that champion for their rights and well-being.

In 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls. The Beijing Declaration is the first to specifically call out girls’ rights

The world is home to more than 1.1 billion girls under age 18, who are poised to become the largest generation of female leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers the world has ever seen.

Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls’ face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

There’s a clear need for the society to understand adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women.

An investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

|public health.gwu.edu|

Worldwide, nearly 1 in 4 girls aged 15–19 years is neither employed nor in education or training compared to 1 in 10 boys of the same age.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind.

Thus, it should be noted that achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals. Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations.

Every day, girls are breaking boundaries and barriers, tackling issues like child marriage, education inequality, violence, climate justice, and inequitable access to healthcare

To accelerate progress, girls need to be involved in both the decision making and designing of solutions that impact their future.

Today, no matter where a girl lives, she is at risk of encountering violence in every space – in the classroom, home and community. And the types of violence she will come into contact with have become increasingly complex with the rise of technology.

When it comes to making decisions about their health and well-being, girls still face significant barriers to accessing and benefiting from health services to meet their specific needs.


At least 60 percent of countries still discriminate against daughters’ rights to inherit land and non-land assets in either law or practice.

Gender discrimination not only restricts girls’ abilities to accumulate human, social and productive assets, limiting their future educational and employment opportunities, but also hinders their well-being and diminishes their self-belief

More than thirty (30%) percent of women in developing countries are married before their 18th birthday and a total of 70 million girls worldwide are affected, mostly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, 23% of girls are married off before they reach the age of 18 years and 4% are married off before the age of 15 years. According to UNICEF, Kenya has the 20th highest absolute number of child brides in the world.

Every year, fifteen (15) million girls get married before their 18th birthday and 1 in 9 girls are married off before they turn fifteen (15).

According to UNICEF, Kenya has the 20th highest absolute number of child brides in the world. The risk factors, drivers and vulnerabilities behind these prevalence rates range from harmful cultural practices in some of the locations, to poverty and economic strain that increase the vulnerability of the girls, to inadequate access to sexual and reproductive health information and services for both girls and boys aged 10-19 years.

Empowering girls will require the global community to: 

  • Expand opportunities for girls to be the change makers, actively engaging their voices and opinions in their communities and political processes about any decision that relates to their bodies, education, career and future.
  • Scale up investments in girls’ programming models that will accelerate progress aligned with today’s reality.
  • Boost investments into the production and intersectional analysis of high quality.

SOURCE: Documents and Reports

Photo courtesy, Feature image:UN.org

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