Today, October 11th is a very important day. October 11th is recognized internationally as The Day of the Girl. This day recognizes girls’ rights to education, health, and gender equality among others. October 11th was the date chosen because, on October 11th, 2011, United Nations General Assembly voted in favour to recognize the value of empowerment of girls to break cycles of poverty, violence, and discrimination.
Although October 11th publicly acknowledges the power of female empowerment, it should be recognized every day that by educating people on gender justice, the world continue continue to make some strides in the right direction.
Day of the Girl was originally a movement fought by youth for youth, working to dismantle patriarchy* and that girls are the experts on issues that affect girls. These tenets still remain true, but as the day gets more attention the issues being discussed go further and include fair and equal access to education, LGBTQ* issues (which is interesting as October 11th also marks Coming Out Day), equal pay, access to healthcare, and freedom from violence – of all kinds.
These days, whether it’s International Women’s Day or International Day of the Girl, are hugely important for starting a conversation. Around the dinner table tonight, I’m hoping conversations were about how we can create a culture that values women’s work, whatever work they do, as much as we value men’s. I hope conversations are about finding a solution to financial abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse against women.
Conversations like: why on earth do we not value LGBTQ* lives and black lives and marginalized lives as much as white lives? Or how do people get away with sending their son to school but not their daughter? Or why is some work called ‘men’s work’ and other work called ‘women’s work’? Or why are birth control and safe sex largely a ‘women’s issue and responsibility’? I know that most of us know the typical answers to these questions, but for tonight and tomorrow and for the next day and the next month and for the next year, let’s challenge these answers. Let’s say ‘I don’t know but we can’t stand by, we need to fight this.’ Fight these gender norms, race norms, and all norms, challenge them, talk about them. One conversation sparks another conversation and another. Nothing changes overnight, but things can change over years, and things have changed over years, we can’t stop now. Kids are looking at us, make sure we’re telling our daughters, ‘you can blaze trails, you can set this world on fire.’
*Patriarchy: A culture in which men hold the majority of power and influence and women and children are largely excluded.*
Tell me your stories of challenging norms and trailblazing paths using #fuelgoodness or #girlhero or #becauseofher or #dayofthegirl!
Happy International Day of the Girl!