October is a month full of celebrations around girls, as on October 11th is observed the International Day of the Girl.

Adopted in 2011 by the UN General Assembly, this date remembers the recognition and commitment of all nations to girls’ rights, and the need to address challenges faced by girls around the world. It is a date to celebrate, but also to remember to fight/act.

Worldwide, girls encounter countless challenges, not only based on gender but also on its intersections with race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, sexual and affective orientation, etc. It is no secret that the world and society need to structurally change to support girls in fulfilling their rights. And COVID-19 pandemic had only brought up more disparities in gender inequalities, such as an increasing rate of violence against girls and women, and retrocession in the prevention of child marriage and child abuse.

Did you know that?

  • 60% of people affected by hunger and poverty are girls and women (UN Women)
  • Only 39% of girls in rural areas attend secondary school, in comparison to 45% of their male pairs. (UN Women)
    • And girls in rural areas twice of probability of being out of school than girls in urban areas (UN Women)
  • 132 million girls are out of school (UNICEF) – a situation that seems only to be aggravated by the current pandemic
  • And during crisis or places affected by conflict, girls are more than twice likely to be out of school than boys (Plan International)
  • An additional year of education can (UN Women):
    • Increase girls and women wages
    • Decrease child marriage
    • Decrease early pregnancy and births, and infant mortality
    • Decrease girls vulnerability to violence.
  • The gender gap in internet connectivity is around 17% worldwide, and in least developed countries is over 40% (UNICEF)
    • And girls have less probability to own and use electronic devices, and to access tech-related jobs and skills than boys (UNICEF)
  • Girls spend 40% more time on domestic chores than boys, which limits their time and opportunities to study, pursue hobbies, and dream (UNICEF)
  • 1 in every 5 girls is married or in union before the age of 18, worldwide (UNFPA)
    • The number doubles when referring to girls in the least developed countries
    • Child marriage reduces future earnings of child brides, and their decision-making ability in the household and face higher risks of violence (World Bank)
  • Everyday, 20,000 girls under 18 years old give birth in developing countries (UNFPA)
  • Girls and young women are more likely to be at high risk of being victims of violence (WHO)
  • 1 in 20 girls worldwide between the ages of 15 and 19 years old have experienced forced sex (UNICEF)

These are only a couple of challenges faced by girls worldwide, every day. Girls are entitled to their fundamental human rights, and the right to a healthy and safe life. And this commitment is everyone’s commitment.

“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.” – United Nations

Want to know more about how girls are changing the world? Check out this blog post written by my ‘fellow fellow’ (inside joke), Pearl Gahwera, C42.

Also check out Girl Up.

Girl Up, a global campaign founded by the UN Foundation in 2010, is a youth-centered leadership development initiative that supports girls worldwide to access their inner power and potential to advance skills, rights, and opportunities of girls everywhere. In eleven years of experience, Girl Up has impacted over 95 thousand girls and youth in over 5,000 Clubs in 130 countries. The organization gives girls resources and platform to start a movement for social change wherever they are, because when girls rise, we all rise.

Thumbnail photo by: Unsplash License

About the author: Patrícia is an Atlas Corps Fellow serving at Girl Up as Global Operations Management Fellow, supporting Girl Up’s global growth and regional operations.