Everything you need to know about International Day of the Girl

11th Oct 18 | Lifestyle

The focus this year is on arming young women with the skills and opportunities to enter the workforce.

Multi-ethnic elementary students in class

In 2012 we had the first International Day of the Girl Child, which the United Nations dedicated to recognising girls’ rights and the challenges they face around the world.

The annual event takes place every October 11. It might seem odd to have a specific day dedicated to girls (particularly as women make up around half of the population), but due to the discrimination and adversities girls face globally, it’s an opportunity to tackle these issues head on.

Here’s everything you need to know about this day of empowerment…

What it is

Worldwide, girls face varying extremes of gender inequality around the world, so today is an opportunity to raise awareness around issues they are dealing with.

According to Plan International UK, one girl every two seconds is forced to marry before the age of 18, and one in 10 have experienced forced sexual acts at some point in their lives.

The statistics are shocking, and unfortunately there’s a long way to go before there’s no longer a need to fight “to create a world that values girls, promotes their rights and ends injustice.”

This year’s theme

The UN has announced this year’s theme is: With Her: A Skilled GirlForce – and for good reason. One billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – will enter the workforce in the next decade, and over 90% living in developing countries will work in the informal sector where they say “low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common”.

So today is dedicated to supporting girls to pick up the skills and access opportunities to enter the workforce on an even footing with their male counterparts.

As well as helping girls in developing countries, the aim is to also boost the education of girls in traditionally male-dominated areas, like maths and science.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres writes, in his 2018 message: “On this International Day of the Girl, let us recommit to supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential.”

How you can mark the day yourself

If signed up in advance, secondary school girls could go to a day of workshops and activities at the Southbank Centre in London. There are various other events taking place across the UK both today (such as this workshop in Wolverhampton), as well as this weekend (such as this one in Essex) – it’s worth looking at what’s on in your local area.

If you can’t make it to an event you can still get involved, either by reading up on the issues facing women (the UN has a good resources page), or signing up to join campaigns like Plan International’s which strive to end discrimination against girls and improve girls’ rights.

There are plenty of other ways you can support the day, such as donating to charities like the Red Box Project, which provides sanitary items to young women across the UK so they don’t miss school.

It’s also a day to consider some of the stereotypes that consistently hold girls back (like, they’re not as good at maths or science compared to boys) – and it’s a time to think about how we can leave these by the wayside.

© Press Association 2018