International Day of the Girl Child

“We have come to her house, the house of her master,to say, You Must Set Her Free.”

October 11th is officially the International Day of the Girl Child. How many of you have heard of it?  How many of you have heard of it and think it’s stupid?

You know what’s stupid?

  • Worldwide, girls constitute over half of the children out of school.
  • Only 30% of all girls are enrolled in secondary school.
  • There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school (Education First).
  • 80% of all human trafficking victims are girls (UNFPA).
  • 75% of AIDS cases in sub-saharan Africa are women and girls (UNAIDS).
  • In a single year, an estimated 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence (UNIFEM).

You know what’s NOT stupid?

  • Girls with 8 years of education are 4X less likely to be married as children (National Academies Press).
  • A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5 (UNESCO).
  • A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult (The World Bank).
  • Women operate a majority of small farms and business in the developing world (Focus on Five)
  • If India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, their GDP would rise by $5.5
    billion. (CIA World Factbook) (Global Campaign for Education and RESULTS
    Education Fund)

A few months ago I had the opportunity to watch the movie Girl Rising in theaters.  It was only in our local theater because of an ongoing campaign to sell enough seats for a showing.  It was, honestly, one of the most moving documentaries I have ever seen. Men and women were there, and many tears were shed.  There was applause at the end, and people kept applauding, even when the theater lights were coming on and the workers came in to clean. There really aren’t even enough words to describe it.  I went into the movie having read the book Half the Sky,  and thinking I had a pretty good grip on everything this movie could teach me.  But wow, I was wrong. So, so wrong. When  everyone stood up to applaud at the end, we weren’t applauding for ourselves, since we’d made a showing happen. We weren’t applauding for the celebrity voice overs. We weren’t applauding the producers and directors of the film, either, even though they had done a beautiful job.  We were all standing there applauding the girls, whose stories had been featured. It felt as if they had been there with us. Like their struggles had been our own.  Overcoming adversity inspires people; and I ugly cried through all of it. And yes, I was inspired.

I didn’t like school growing up. I wanted to stay home sick.  Now I know that there were girls in the world that would have done just about anything to go to school for me.  There was a girl in the movie that couldn’t pay her school fees but kept showing up, day after day, until the teacher had no choice but to let her just sit there.  Absorbing it all. She didn’t have books, but she listened.  She was ready to learn.

I want to be like that girl. I want my daughter to be like that girl.  Willing to listen. Ready. Unashamed.  Hopeful.

I took my 7 1/2 year old daughter to school today.  She walked in with a group of her girlfriends, and they all had their school supplies tucked in cute little back packs.  In this world, 1 in 4 girls are born into poverty.  Due to where she was born, Abi has a chance. What more can you ask for, but to have a chance?  My prayer is that Abi won’t squander this opportunity that God has given her.  Maybe, in the end, she can help change this broken world.  And give some other girl a chance, too.

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