October 12, 2013 – In recognition of girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 and declared October 11th the 'International Day of the Girl'. This year marks their second anniversary and they will focus on education and the importance of new technologies, innovative partnerships, policies, resource utilizations and community mobilizations including:
- The improvement of public and private transportation to and from school including roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles, boats and canoes.
- The co-operation between school systems and the banking industry to create a secure and convenient monetary pay system for female teachers and scholarships for students.
- The provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational, education programmes.
- Discussions on the corporate mentorship programmes which will assist girls to acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to a working environment.
- Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms relating to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles.
- The deployment of mobile technology to provide an education for girls who live in remote areas.
The United Nations states: "The fulfillment of girls’ rights to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves: it is the one consistent positive determinant of practically every desired development outcome, from reductions in mortality and fertility, to poverty reduction and equitable growth, to social norm change and democratization."
"While there has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education over the last two decades, many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of this basic right. Girls in many countries are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to safety-related, financial, institutional and cultural barriers. Even when girls are in school, perceived low returns from poor quality of education, low aspirations, or household chores and other responsibilities keep them from attending school or from achieving adequate learning outcomes. The transformative potential for girls and societies promised through girls’ education is yet to be realized."
Because I am a Girl is a national campaign that is unleashing the power of Canadian girls and women to claim a brighter, safer future for girls in the developing world.
Girls are less likely to attend school than boys and are falling behind in literacy and attending high school. Girls are at risk of sexual abuse and gender-based violence in school. The goal of Plan Canada's 'Learn Without Fear' campaign is to:
- ensure that the school environment is safe and supportive,
- ensure the government has regulations against violence in school,
- create a violence-free learning environment, and,
- build momentum to achieve 'fear-free' schools internationally.
After three years from the inception of the campaign, there are now more than 30,000 schools, 53,000 teachers, and 485 million children involved!
Attending school on an empty stomach children are not able to concentrate on their studies. When children fall behind in their classes, they are more likely to drop out of school and never return. The goal of Plan Canada is to ensure that:
- every child receives a healthy lunch,
- families know where their child’s next meal is coming from, and
- communities are involved with the growing and preparing of food.
Primary education is becoming more available in remote locations but students that want to attend high school often have to travel farther away from home. Concerned parents are not allowing their girls to attend school for safety and security reasons. The goal of Plan Canada is to build special residences for girls (and boys) so that they have a place to stay while they concentrate on their studies. Integrating this plan will prevent students from becoming domestic servants in exchange for room and board.
Making education available to girls will change community perceptions about gender roles. The consistent mindset within communities is that girls belong at home and not in school - but this will change over time.
Millions of girls do not attend school and yet, statistics show us that educated girls wed later, have children later, and are more able to integrate positive and supportive measures by pulling themselves and their communities out of poverty. Over the next five years, Plan Canada's goal is to support 4 million girls to receive the education, skills, and support they need to transform their lives and the world around them.
“On this special day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting the rights of girls in Canada and around the world, and reflect on the challenges and hardships that so many are unfortunately still facing today", said Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“Our Government recognizes that investing in girls’ health and education is essential to eliminating poverty, as well as creating healthy and sustainable communities.
“Here at home, we remain committed to making Canadian communities safer by protecting young girls. Our Government recently announced its intent to introduce amendments to the criminal code that will better protect children from a range of sexual offences and help to ensure that offenders receive tougher sentences. In addition, we are taking action to address cyberbullying."
“Internationally, Canada has taken a leadership role in promoting the health of women and children, as demonstrated by our 2010 G-8 Summit launch of the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Since then, we have taken decisive actions with a range of international stakeholders to achieve sustainable and meaningful results for mothers and children in developing countries, such as Haiti and Bangladesh."
In September at the United Nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that nine projects around the globe aimed at improving the health of mothers and children, and strengthening immunization efforts in developing countries will receive over $200 million in support.
“We are also committed to improving access to basic quality education for girls, and have achieved particular results in Afghanistan."
“I recently had the privilege of meeting with Malala Yousafzai (pictured above) in New York City. It is truly inspiring that someone so young has the courage and conviction to risk her life advocating for access to education for young women and girls in her country. Her actions are an important reminder of the need to continue promoting the rights and freedoms of women and girls on the world stage – values that we enjoy in our own country – and help to defend those values from organizations like the Taliban who seek to undermine them."
“Malala serves as an example for the international community as we continue to work towards improving the lives of girls through a number of initiatives, such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”
The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women (pictured left) also addressed the United Nations stating that the promotion and protection of women's and girls' human rights are central to Canada's domestic, foreign and development assistance policy.
"Canada's support for the rights and issues of women and girls is unwavering," said Minister Leitch. "Canada does not shy away from tough conversations about the importance of the full and equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of social, economic and political life, the elimination of violence against women and girls, or their economic independence and political empowerment. This is because Canadians know that all of these factors contribute to a more stable, democratic and economically prosperous world."
Canada is a strong supporter of the six UN Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security, including the importance of full participation of women in all decision-making processes, peace processes and all aspects of conflict resolution. The Government is equally committed to the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of women's and girls' rights in fragile and conflict-affected communities. Sexual and gender-based violence is a violation of the rights of both women and girls, and a barrier to peace and development. To this end, Canada has provided over $13 million since 2012 in support toward ending sexual violence and encouraging the full participation of women in emerging democracies.
Since 2007, Status of Women Canada has provided more than $62 million for projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls. The Government of Canada continues to work in partnership with stakeholders at the local level to increase the economic security of women and girls in communities across Canada, including increasing women's representation in the skilled trades, entrepreneurship and other non-traditional occupations.
You CAN Help!
Here are some of the ways you can get involved in the 'Day of the Girl' and support girls around the world! Please click on Because I Am a Girl. Alternatively, you can…
Spread the Word!
Share the animated Day of the Girl video with your friends and family, generously voiced by National Celebrated Ambassador Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau!
Download your pledge. Sign your name on the pledge to show your support for girls! Print the poster and place it on your school bulletin board and work place for others to see!
Host a fundraising party to celebrate girls!
Wear the cause!
Purchase a Because I am a Girl T-shirt or wear magenta to show your support for the International Day of the Girl.
Children raise their hand in class if they want to be heard. Around the world, a raised hand is a symbol for education and the girl empowerment that comes with it. If you believe every girl deserves an education - raise your hand, write to the United Nations, and ask them to put girls’ education at the top of the global agenda!
Protect and Save the Children, a Malaysian organization that focuses on the prevention, intervention, and treatment of child sexual abuse, in conjunction with the International Day of the Girl Child, will be visiting schools in Petaling Jaya to create awareness on child rights and personal safety.
“Working with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a basis, our central focus is the implementation of programs and services that promote and protect the rights of children to be free from sexual abuse and exploitation,” said P. Nagasayee Malathy, Executive Director of Protect and Save the Children.
Around the world, girls are not only deprived of education but also punished for seeking knowledge. Studies indicate that when girls stay in school it significantly reduces the chances of child marriage and increases their future income by more than 20%.
In 2012, as part of the first International Day of the Girl Child, Protect and Save the Children reached out to about 50 girls in Selangor to create awareness on their rights, build self-esteem and conduct motivation sessions. “This year, we plan to reach out to about 700 girls in two schools,” said Malathy.
“The theme of this year’s event is: I am a Girl, I am Special and I have the Right to Protection,” said Malathy. “The objective of this event is to create awareness on Child Rights, personal safety and the importance of the International Day of the Girl Child day."