Wednesday, October 11, 2017 has officially been proclaimed ‘International Girls Day’; though an ‘International Woman’s Day’ exists in March, there has now been a day dedicated to the young girls in our society who struggle against the oppression of everyday stereotypes and the pressure to adhere to societies complexes.
Awareness UK writes, ‘There are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, each with limitless individual potential, however they are disappearing from public awareness and the international development agenda. Between inequities in secondary education to protection issues, adolescent girls are uniquely impacted and should benefit from targeted investments and programs that address their distinct needs. Investing in adolescent girls can have a formidable ripple effect to create a better world by 2030’.
Rightly so, they highlight the importance of investing in the youth of today, and how imperative it is to instill confidence, self-love and determination into young girls; without such qualities, girls could be subject to becoming weak in a society that requires strength from women to succeed in a mainly male predominated society. Despite this continuing patriarchy, young girls have already proved to many the strength in determination and assertiveness; as an example, ‘Malala Yousafzai, born 12 July 1997 is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement.’
Barely a teenager, Malala exhibited exceeding strength in her advocacy for a girl’s education; injured, she had still achieved the education for girls – this show of sacrifice and strength is an emblem for girls around the world, the message being that no-one should be able to tell you no, in terms of your own education and the betterment of yourself. She represents the struggle that girls go through everyday – from unfair uniform codes to being slotted out of sports teams for their own gender, she is the emblem of progression.
International Girls Day dismisses the negative labels, ‘bossy’, ‘bi*chy’ and perhaps most of all, ‘like a girl’. If you are a boy, and reading this remembering the time someone once said you do something ‘like a girl’, then you sir are winning – as why should the female gender have the connotations of weakness, fragility and dependence; the young female generation of today will (hopefully) grow into a society more accepting, where they can participate in sports without feeling the pressure of a male presence, and be assertive in their business endeavors without the labels that have been implicated for generations.
Girls, be strong, for despite the adversity you may face as young female in a society where you are not quite yet fully accepted, there is a world of opportunity that we, as the generation of hope, can grasp.
Happy International Girls Day.