Every year on 11 October, Girls Not Brides member organisations join the global celebration of International Day of the Girl (IDG). We stand with thousands around the world to hold world leaders to account for their commitments to girls’ rights – including addressing child marriage – and to ensure that all girls can chose their own equal future.
This year, the celebrations took on a new meaning, as lockdowns and restrictions continue to disproportionately impact girls. COVID-19’s shadow pandemic has exposed the increased cases of domestic violence, increased household responsibility and lack of access to learning and personal support that women and girls from marginalised communities face, and are at risk of now more than ever.
Many lockdown measures have also meant that girls continue to be impacted the most by the lack of direct access to support, sexual and reproductive health and rights services, and education. Organisations based within these communities have had to either pause or adjust their ways of working.
This year, under the official theme, “My voice, our equal future,” thousands of civil society organisations, activists, girls and supporters came together in digital and physical spaces to celebrate the importance of girls, and their right to choose their own future. As equals.
Girls should live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS. They should be able to learn new skills for the future they choose. They should lead in their own rights as a generation of activists accelerating social change.
Member activities to celebrate the day
Here are just four ways Girls Not Brides member organisations demanded a better future for girls this IDG:
Benin: organised a youth-led online campaign to amplify girls’ voices and profile solutions, girl leadership and inter-generational dialogue – all whilst bringing together girls and decision makers in one space.
Ghana: created a mentorship programme for adolescent girls – a Young Female Reporters Training session for 300 girls to build their social media engagement and digital advocacy skills.
West Bengal: a week-long campaign hosting dialogues between girls affected by child marriage and carers/parents. These conversations were shaped around social and gender norms, and stories were captured for awareness raising and girl-led participatory social media campaigns involving boys.
Uttar Pradesh: organised a Girl Icon Leadership Summit with girls, and used advocacy platforms to amplify girls’ voices and encourage inter-sectional dialogues between sector and girl leaders.
Now we push on!
This year’s IDG theme pushed the urgency for girls’ voices to be at the forefront of conversations, and for girls to be listened to in order to create an equal future. To amplify their voices and stand up for their rights, and to reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls worldwide and assert their power as change-makers.
It was an opportunity to boldly raise further awareness about the links between ending child marriage and a better, equal future for all girls, a future which Girls Not Brides member organisations will continue to drive forward. Together, we can.
In the time it has taken to read this article 10 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds