Thank you for joining our staff at Equity for Children to honor the International Day of the Girl. October 11th has served since 2012 as a day to mobilize in raising awareness and pushing forward policy agendas addressing the many obstacles that females worldwide face to fulfilling their human rights. Today also serves as a platform for female empowerment, ensuring that girls’ testimonies, needs, and opinions have a voice center stage in global discussions and policy decisions surrounding issues that will impact their lives as well as those of future generations of women to come. The global community must ensure that females have a forum as active participants in breaking down the barriers preventing many from accessing, and often even knowing, their rights and becoming independent agents of their destinies. The International Day of the Girl brings together stakeholders and mobilizes resources towards ensuring that girls have the tools to continue leading and spreading adolescent-fronted movements targeting diverse issues such as gender-based violence, child marriage, education, self-esteem, and climate change.
This year, the International Day is thematically titled “Girlforce: Unscripted and Unstoppable”. This year’s theme aims to recognize the strides made since the passage of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and to celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most comprehensive policy agenda addressing the rights of every girl and woman to be safe from violence, gain an education, decide who to marry, and receive equal pay. There has been commendable progress towards dismantling the systems and practices of exclusion and disempowerment that prevent females across the world from unlocking their potential to lead fulfilled lives. However, there is much work to be done.
Securing the public investment necessary to fund projects that target the many hurdles to worldwide girl empowerment is often difficult. Gender discrimination often excludes girls’ interests, and investment in them, from policymaking decisions. This holds particularly true in countries of the Global South, where intense poverty challenges, ethnic tensions, and ingrained social structures compound the barriers to resource investment and inclusive policy consideration centered on girls. This month, during the Third Committee deliberations in the 74th UN General Assembly, new research highlighting the importance of policy that invests in girls will be shared. Findings from Brazil, Guatemala, and Peru provide case studies that illuminate the predominant issues of budget and priority in public investment for girls. Member States, UN agencies, civil society members, and a young female advocate from Peru will discuss gender gaps in investment and the role of participatory budgets in the policy arena. Such research and discourse will provide a critical opportunity to open an evidence-driven dialogue towards ensuring that local, national, and international policy initiatives incorporate girls’ unique needs and invest in addressing their challenges as we undertake the global project of sustainable development.