October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child, a day the UN has chosen to draw awareness to girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This year’s theme is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence which ties in with the UN’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women which aims to raise public awareness and work towards preventing and ending violence against women an girls around the world.
Here at Pretty Tough, this is a topic very close to our hearts. We are thankful that we can grow up in a place where we have (mostly) equal rights but the unfortunate reality is that many girls will not be equal to their brothers.
We often look at violence against girls and women as a third world problem, but the statistics are staggering for girls worldwide:
- Worldwide, more than 1 in 10 girls worldwide have experienced forced sexual acts in their lives (120 million girls total)
- Up to 50% of sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls younger than 16
- In the UK it is estimated that 20,000 girls are at risk each year for Female Genital Mutilation
- In Canada, girls are four times more likely to experience sexual offences than boys
- In the US, 83% of girls aged 12-16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
“On this International Day of the Girl Child, I call on all governments to take action to end all forms of violence against girls in all parts of the world. Together, we must create a world where violence against women and girls is never tolerated and girls are always empowered to reach their full potential. “
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Women’s equality does not truly exist anywhere – yet – but we can challenge this paradigm – one day, one girl, at a time.
With the announcement this morning that Malala Yousafzai is the recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, we know that empowered girls are our best hope for reconciliation in conflict. Malala came to global attention after she was shot in the head by the Taliban — two years ago Thursday — for her efforts to promote education for girls in Pakistan.
Through her heroic struggle, Malala has become a leading spokeswoman for girls’ rights to education and, at 17, is the youngest ever peace prize winner.