Today, September 22 is The Day of the Girl. It is a growing global campaign to highlight equality and young girls around the globe. Today about 15 women joined the students at the all girl Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy to talk about careers, goals and why the celebration is important. The presentations included a fire fighter, a breast cancer survivor, retired teacher, realtor, author, cupcake designer, a fencer and a host of women business entrepreneurs.
The campaign is a project of School Girls Unite, an organization of students and young women leaders in the United States and in Mali working to advance the U.N. Millennium Development Goals related to gender equality and universal basic education, as well as other human rights issues.
The United States is ranked 19th by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, behind countries like Lesotho, the Philippines, and South Africa. Even the top-ranked countries like Iceland have only about 85 percent gender equality. Some startling statistics to consider about girls around the world are:
● More than 80 percent of the world’s 35 million refugees are women and children
● More than 110 million of the world’s children, two-thirds of them girls, are not in school
● At least one in every three women is a survivor of some form of gender-based violence, frequently inflicted by a family member
● Women represent, on average, less than 10 percent of the seats in national parliaments
● In sub-Saharan Africa, 58 percent of persons infected with HIV/AIDS are women
● 82 million girls in developing countries who are now aged 10-17 will be married before their18th birthday
● Worldwide, some 14 million 15-to-19-year-old girls give birth each year; about one in every 13 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in the United States become pregnant each year
● Girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their 20s
● Nearly 50 percent of sexual assaults worldwide are against girls aged 15 years or younger
Many educational psychologists conclude that girls (generally) do better in school but are more likely to be less self-confident. A girl student who gets all A’s can think she isn’t smart and limited confidence in her academic abilities. So it is important everyday to remind them that they are loved, they can do whatever they believe they can do and that there are other men and women who are willing to encourage them to achieve their personal goals. Let’s do this everyday.