International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on October 11, to recognize girls’ rights and support initiatives to achieve those rights. As part of this year’s theme, ‘My voice, our equal future’ UNICEF wants to encourage girls and women all over the world to stand up for themselves and live free from gender-based violence. They are using the collective voice of all women and engage youth to inspire a positive attitude and change toward gender equality by sharing inspiring stories of girls who have excelled in some way or the other.
In addition to a collective voice, UN Women even launched the ‘Shadow Pandemic Awareness Campaign’ to talk about and take a stance against domestic violence. As part of their public service announcement, they decided to present a 60-second film narrated by Kate Winslet in which they highlight the rise in domestic violence cases through the current pandemic. The film has even emphasized the importance of standing up and taking action to support all women and stop domestic violence.
The World Health Organization (WHO) co-organized a virtual intergenerational dialogue between girl advocates and high-level leaders about putting girls and their rights at the center of decision-making processes.
The health and wellbeing of girls is a priority for WHO. We have to come together to improve the lives and health of girls, but girls themselves must be at the center of that effort. I am happy to say that we will soon be launching a Youth Council to engage with the leadership of WHO on global health issues. – said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, at the virtual event
As a part of celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child and ‘Get Girls Equal’ campaign under Plan International organization, girls are taking leading roles in business, media, politics, and technology to demand equal freedom online for girls and women. The global #girlstakeover campaign is a call to action towards online abuse by stepping into the shoes of top leaders. Online violence is a serious issue, and girls need to know when they are threatened online and report it. Girls around the world have come together and written an open letter to influential social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to address this and create ways to report abuse that support girls.
Doing their bit, Shakti Society, a non profit society in India, committed to empowering women and families through community forums, has presented their latest initiative – The Shakti Film Festival. Their mission is to use the films as a medium to acknowledge and spread awareness of women’s contribution to society. They have scheduled their films to be screened over two days – October 10 and 11, to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child. Their previous initiatives have successfully created a powerful dialogue around gender equality.
To stand strong against these worrisome trends is a task all must take to ensure our future is one of equality and justice for all. Women’s rights movements have been an unrepentant force demanding a better world for all. States and international organizations must continue their support. Governments must take urgent actions to renew commitments to gender equality. – Constanza Tabbush, Research Specialist at Research and Data section of UN Women
Earlier this year, to celebrate and honor the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women launched the ‘Generation Equality Campaign’ as a ‘multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality.’ Their aim is to highlight ‘intergenerational and youth engagement’ to advocate for gender equality. They are working to commence a ‘set of concrete, ambitious, and transformative actions to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality.’ Additionally, UN Women joined hands with Plan International to co-host a conversation on digital youth activism, girls’ rights, and safety in online spaces on October 7, 2020.
The movements for voicing girls’ rights is not new. A number of initiatives and efforts have been employed over the past year to empower women, prevent gender-based violence, and spread a positive message of gender equality. A few other great examples are the Indian government criminalizing child marriages, Mexico reinforcing their protections of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, Vietnam’s change in their labor code requiring workplaces to address sexual harassment, and the launch of the UN Trust Fund to end violence against women, which has been crucial in its activities through the COVID-19 crisis.
The numbers of domestic violence cases see a significant rise through the pandemic. This year, advocating for gender equality and taking a stance against gender-based violence has never been more important. Taking a step further, organizations like UN Women, WHO and Plan International are involved in various initiatives to take urgent action towards positive and permanent gender equality changes. The events leading to the International Day of the Girl Child are just a few displays of these immense efforts.