Happy International Day of the Girl!

International Day of the Girl logo

Today is also the inaugural International Day of the Girl! The United Nations International Day of the Girl was established after a successful campaign "led in the US by School Girls Unite, an organization of students and young women leaders determined to advance the UN Millennium Development Goals related to gender equality and universal basic education, and other human rights issues. [Their] mission mirrors the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the International Day of the Girl Child, approved on December 19, 2011: To help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls' lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential."

This year's theme is ending child marriage around the globe, which is a perfect and terrible theme on which to launch the International Day of the Girl, because child marriage is the intersection of so many issues affecting girl children: The devaluing of female children, poverty, lack of educational opportunities, hostility to female agency, sexual violence, emotional abuse, lack of control of reproduction, cyclical devaluing of female children that underlies female infanticide and child marriage... All of these are inextricably wrapped up in child marriage, but this is a cycle that can be stopped.

Shummi, a Bangladeshi girl, in voiceover (with translation) over video of congregated young Bangladeshi girls and adult women: My name is Shumi. I am 11 years old. [text onscreen: Shumi, EKATA Group Member; she appears onscreen] My father wanted to arrange my marriage, but I did not agree to the proposal.

An unidentified Bangladeshi woman, in voiceover (with translation): Shumi told us her father was arranging her marriage. [text onscreen: EKATA Group Leader; she appears onscreen] Shumi asked us to go talk to her father and make him understand. [over video of women walking out of meeting space] As a result, we approached members of the local government, and other EKATA members, and we went to see Shumi's father together.

Rajendranath, a Bangladeshi man, onscreen, beside his meager home: The EKATA groups came and spoke to me. [text onscreen: Rajendranath, Shumi's Father] They said my daughter was too young for marriage. After a discussion, we agreed. [over video of Shumi walking with friends] We will now wait to marry Shumi when she comes of age.

Shumi, back with the congregated group again: I am very happy that my father has stopped this marriage. I want to be self-dependent; I do not want to marry until I am 18 years old.

EKATA Group Leader: We are all united to stop child marriage!

Whole Group, with arms in air: We are all united to stop child marriage!

Text Onscreen: International Day of the Girl: October 11, 2012. Just $49 can send a girl to school for a year, which will greatly decrease her chances of becoming a child bride. Donate now. Care.org.
Child marriage is not an immutable fact. It is a preventable social convention. Girls need champions. This is day to recruit those champions.

There are some great events and teaspooning opportunities today. I recommend signing this petition at Pathfinder and getting involved in one of many ways at Care.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave related links and suggestions for additional teaspooning opportunities in comments. Follow the hashtag #internationaldayofthegirl for more.

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