Today is the International Day of the Girl Child. Recognizing the rights of our girls and the unique challenges they face around the world is a parenting responsibly for all of us, no matter where we live. Girls of all ages face violence, discrimination and abuse every day across all of our nations.
It is a sad but true reality, one that we don’t talk about enough. It is with great hope that this global day of observance serves to highlight and generate awareness, advocacy and conversations about how we can empower and safeguard our girls to make certain their human rights are met, everywhere. From UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the UN website…
“Investing in girls is a moral imperative a matter of basic justice and equality. It is an obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It is also critical for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, advancing economic growth and building peaceful, cohesive societies.
For this inaugural day, the United Nations is focusing on the issue of child marriage. Globally, around 1 in 3 young women aged 20 to 24 — approximately 70 million — were married before the age of 18. Despite a decline in the overall proportion of child brides in the last 30 years, the challenge persists, particularly in rural areas and among the poorest. If present trends continue, the number of girls who will marry by their 18th birthday will climb towards 150 million in the next decade.
Child marriage divorces girls from opportunity. It jeopardizes health, increases exposure to violence and abuse, and results in early and unwanted pregnancies an often life-threatening risk. If a mother is under the age of 18, her infant’s risk of dying in its first year of life is 60 per cent greater than that of an infant born to a mother older than 19.
Education for girls is one of the best strategies for protecting girls against child marriage. When they are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, girls can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families. And if they have already been married young, access to education, economic opportunities and health services — including HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health — will help enrich their lives and enhance their future.
I urge Governments, community and religious leaders, civil society, the private sector, and families especially men and boys, to promote the rights of girls, including through the relevant Conventions, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. Let us be guided by the theme of today’s observance “my life, my right, end child marriage” and let us do our part to let girls be girls, not brides.”
These words, this declaration, hit me to my very core. While I may not be harbouring treasures for my daughters dowry and forcing her into marriage (anytime, ever), I ultimately don’t have much control over what she decides to do when she leaves home. All I can do empower he as much as I can everyday while she’s growing up; provide a safe, warm and loving home environment for her. This isn’t something that I should only concerned with when she’s a tween or a teenager.
We might not live in a third world country, we may not suffer from poverty and we definitely aren’t living in an abusive environment. Which is not to say I ‘m not familiar some of those things. Poverty and abuse was very much a part of my childhood, teen and young adult life. Perhaps that’s why I am so passionate about powering my own daughter, even at this young age. I truly believe it is vital in helping her to achieve her own full potential. Read more about my thoughts on The Generational Cycle of Violence by visiting my personal blog.
This crazy world freaks me out and I know all too well the dangers lurking in nearly every corner. I want her armour to be strong and resilient. The following 7 ways I empower my little girl, now and for the future – are the ones that stand out as the most important to me…
Be Consistent Both in Love (Unconditionally) and With Discipline 1 of 7Indulge your newborn girls, there's no such thing as being spoiled under 1 year of age. After they turn one, however - is when things can get tricky. I've found that setting limits and being consistent when I do have to lay down the law really helps with behavioural problems in the long run. If I'm not consistent, then I would be giving my daughter the impression that she can have her way by whining and/or throwing a fit. Exercising patience and remaining calm has been trying at times, but fundamental in developing more self-affirming forms of discipline. I would never want her to mimic impatient, belittling behaviour with her peers as she gets older.
10 quotes about kindness from Because I am a Girl
Take Care of Her Health 2 of 7I'm not just talking about her physical health. Her spiritual welfare and emotional development is of the upmost importance to me. Staying the course with good nutrition and instilling healthy values into her from an early age will help her to continue on that path as she gets older, when she's making these choices on her own.
Learn more about how we can help girls who are less fortunate than us to live long and healthy lives!
Teach / Involve Her in Native Culture & Traditions 3 of 7Involving Abby in our everyday traditions and special ceremonies will help her have a solid understanding and appreciation for her people, her communities and Indigenous peoples at large. I can only hope that this will all resound positively in her so that she may continue to pass the torch in this way; against all of the stereotypes.
Check out Label Jars, Not People from Because I am a Girl
Discourage Peer Worship 4 of 7Doing as such will help her become less shy in large groups and with her peers in voicing her own wishes and opinions. Teaching a child the difference in being assertive and aggressive can be tricky. They have a natural desire to want to please, make friends and fit in. It's up to me to show my little girl that she can have a independent voice and those things too.
I plan on introducing her to stuff like this as she gets older. Roundup courtesy Because I am a Girl
Encourage her To Think For Herself 5 of 7At this age, letting her call the shots sometimes, is one of the best ways to do this. If I'm always telling her what to do, she'll never learn how to take the initiative. I try to always acknowledge her feelings so that she will hopefully (always) feel comfortable expressing herself, or to stand up for herself. Especially in the face of adversity.
A great list of 5 novels about girl's rights from around the world from Because I am a Girl.
Provide Her With Education & Arts Opportunities 6 of 7We've started education funds for both of our kids and so have the grandparents. We (and they) are EXTREMELY lucky in this. I am blessed to be able to provide a lifetime of learning for my little girl, even now in the decisions we make about choosing Montessori over public school.
Learn about the importance of education for little girl's everywhere on, Because I am a Girl.
Be a Positive Role Model 7 of 7I'm the first woman she's looking up to and learning from. I only hope that my hard work will provide her with the tools she needs as she grows, is challenged and eventually journeys out on her own. All a long way off I know - but the work begins now.
Check out 10 Role Models We Admire from, Because I am a Girl
As Girl Speakers Bureau member Saba told a room of Diplomats at the United Nations: “All women were once girls, but not all girls will become women.” - Because I am a Girl
Become more involved. Here’s how.
Top Image Photo Credit: Enjoy Festivals
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