During last year’s “Day of the Girl Child,” the focus was on ending the practice of child marriage, which is a fitting precursor to this year’s chosen theme: Innovating for Girls’ Education.
Before talking about education, let’s back up to address the reality that girls face a unique litany of obstacles before ever reaching the point of having the opportunity to obtain education. Paraphrased from the UN Women website on ending violence against women, girls bear an unequal burden of these risks simply because of their gender:
– Sex- selection infanticide (femicide)
– Sexual abuse and sexualized violence, including rape used as a tool in conflict
– Harmful traditional practices (like female genital mutilation and child marriage)
– Human trafficking for sex or labor
– Sexual harassment and/or discrimination
Upon potentially emerging as survivors of one or more of these traumas, girls are at a disadvantage societally, and those whom have access to education carry this weight with them into the classroom. Awareness of the unique disadvantages and strengths of girl children inside the classroom (derived from their societal position) should inform and drive innovation for girls’ education/
Increased education for girls has been linked to better outcomes in terms of family planning/population control, economic development and also population health. Overall, the evidence for the myraid positive impacts throughout society of furthering girls’ education is difficult to refute.
Today is a day to applaud the brave work of people standing up for equal access to education for all children, and to envision what the world will look like when girl children are empowered with education globally. Here is an inspirational video from the Jon Stewart Show of his recent interview of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for standing up for education access for girls in her community: