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Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence

Most young girls know Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Disney’s High School Musical franchise but yesterday they had the chance to see her in a more professional light. Miss Coleman played her role as champion for UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign by hosting a live Google+ Hangout with U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell, Dr. Anju Malhotra and groups of women around the world including the embassies in Cairo, Katmandu and Jakarta and the School of Leadership in Afghanistan! I had the opportunity to tune in and it was truly inspiring to hear these powerful women speak on the issues that women and girls face globally. We actually got to see and hear from some of the ladies watching in the embassies as well! Hearing testimony from these women, one who shared what life if like for a young girl who begins to menstruate, was heart breaking yet inspiring to see this woman be empowered by the pain she endured to help prevent it from happening to other girls. Pain is indeed one of our most powerful catalysts.

“The Unites States makes the empowerment of women and girls a priority, not only because we believe it’s the right thing to do which obviously it is,” says Ambassador Russell, “but because, the fact is that countries where girls are empowered do better than countries where they aren’t treated equally. These countries are more stable, they’re more secure and their economy’s are better and that frankly is in the interest of the United States and the whole international community.”

The theme this year for International Day of the Girl Child is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence.” Below are some startling facts they shared:

  • One in three girls in the developing world is married by the time she is 18. 
  • 700 million current living women were married as children.
  • 250 million girls live in poverty.
  • Every year, three million girls are at risk for female genital mutilation/cutting on the African continent alone.
  • 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.

“At UNICEF we are looking to have a girls movement. We are looking for girls to join together across the world and claim their stake in where the world is going. Next year the world is going to set 15 year goals, the millennium developing goals are going to end and a new set of goals are going to be created. We want girls to be at the center of those goals and we look at you for making sure that they are,” concludes Dr. Anju Malhotra.

When I read these statistics I know I am on the right path to making the world a better place! You can do your part by supporting #GIRLHERO, a digital movement launched by Girl Up to recognize and celebrate girls. Post a photo on social media of a girl who inspires you and tag her. That girl has now been challenged to pass it forward and share who inspires her. I already know who I am going to tag, who inspires you?

If you weren’t able to catch the Hangout live, catch the footage for yourself now.

What is International Day of the Girl Child?

Starting in 2012 the United Nations marked October 11th, International Day of the Girl Child. This day is dedicated to the empowerment of girls around the world with activities partaking through various organizations worldwide. Each year has a theme and this years theme is, “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”. UN Women Executive Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will speak be speaking at the UNICEF House co-sponsored by UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and Plan International, from 12.30-2 p.m.

Today is actually Girlpreneur Day, day 9 of 11 Days of Action, a movement launched by The Day of the Girl Summit. The organization has managed to expand from just 11 devoted days to 11 months of the year! What an amazing achievement in such little time!

The entire premise of this special day makes me tingle inside. I keep thinking of all the ways Digital Girl Inc. will contribute and bring a greater awareness of this day to my community in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. While there are some events occurring throughout our borough, I have not heard of anything in this neighborhood. I know of so many children would could benefit from something such a unified push!

While I recognize my immediate surroundings need assistance, the outcry for help is loud and clear from other places around the world.  Research shows that being born a girl in this world can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. Around the world women can be seen as a liability or as a sexual instrument or baby making tool.  Below are just a few saddening facts according to the World Bank:

  • Globally more males are finishing primary school than women.
  • More countries hold a bias to women attending secondary school than primary.
  • Low incomes are most responsible for the disparity in most regions.
  • The 20 lowest literacy rates were found in Sub-Saharan African countries except Pakistan.

Education is key to lifting women out of poverty so it just show’s you how much work is necessary. I hope one can see that it is indeed going to take the united village, our flattened world to get women to a point where we no longer have to fight for education, quality, a voice or simple recognition as adults with feelings and thoughts the same as man. If you have more time, feel free to digest more statistics.

Are you planning to participate in International Day of the Girl Child? Here are some of the ways you can get involved!

  1. Hangout with U.S. Dept of State & Ambassador today, October 9th @ 7:30am EDT for Global Women’s Issues!
  2. Take the challenge from Pink Lemonade Stand and The Day of the Girl Summit and come up with an idea, a cause, a dream or a motto and share it with the world, using #Girlpreneur #IDG2014 #11DaysofAction GIRLPRENUER
  3. Be a part of the “Girls in the Lead” campaign of The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), where WAGGGS IDG Ambassador Maria Augustina from Argentina will be taking over the @UN Women twitter feed at 10AM EST.
  4. Join the Brighter Future Movement, brought to you by Plan’s Because I am a Girl Campaigna global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty.
  5. Host an event for Girl Up, an innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation.
  6. Learn about and spread awareness about the future of girls in Bangladesh. 
  7. Take a quiz to find out how much you really know about women and poverty in the world!
  8. Get your Day of the Girl Avatar and set it as your profile pic for your social media accounts!
  9. Follow Black Girls Code and YWCA on twitter for live tweets of their Women In Color Stem Panel on October 11th!
  10. And last but not least, spend some added QT with the young girls in your life and make sure you tell them they can be anything they want to be as long as they put their minds to it!