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International Day of the Girl Child and why it matters

Nearly twenty-five years ago 30,000 individuals from nearly 200 countries arrived in Beijing, China, for the Fourth World Conference on Women, resolute on recognising women’s rights as human rights. These countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in the years following this, women pressed this agenda forward, leading global movements on issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights to equal pay. Today these movements have grown exponentially and are being organized by and for adolescent girls from several backgrounds and situations, these girls are confidently demanding action against discrimination, violence and poor learning opportunities. Launched in 2012 by the United Nations general assembly, the International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated annually on the 11th of October to promote the empowerment of girls and address the fulfillment of their human rights while highlighting the challenges that girls all over the world face.

The Day of The Girl Summit which is held at the United Nations headquarters every year, aims to bring together organisations that serve girls to further the advancement of their human rights. The issues focused on by the International Day of the Girl Child include equality, education, child marriage, access to services regarding puberty and sexual health as well as addressing issues around gender based violence. The aim is to effectively support adolescent girls as they mature into women so that they are equipped with the skills required for them to change the world both as empowered girls of today and tomorrow’s leaders.

With each annual celebration, a different theme is presented, past themes have included “EmPower Girls: Before, During and After Crisis” in 2017 and “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable” in 2019. This year’s theme “My Voice, our equal future” serves to amplify the voices of adolescent girls and redesign the world to support adolescent girls that seek to assert their right to being powerhouses and game changers. Digital activism campaigns have been developed in order to raise awareness on the diversity of girls’ voices and their hope for a reimagined future.

International Day of the Girl 2020 will focus on the demands from adolescent girls to:

· Learn new skills towards the futures they choose

· Lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change

· Live free from gender-based violence, HIV and AIDs and harmful practices (such as genital mutilation and various taboos that prevent women from controlling their own fertility).

These demands seek to make sure that adolescent girls are energized and recognized as well as counted and invested in. In order to realise the power that adolescent girls possess, it is important to uphold their rights today and strive towards a more equitable and successful future where women and men can partner in solving global issues such as economic growth, climate change and achieving global sustainability. Gender equality is a global priority and the support of young girls and making sure their voices and ideas are heard are key in order to achieve sustainable development and peace.

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