International Day of the Girl Child began as part of the international, non-governmental organization Plan International’s campaign “Because I am a Girl.” The campaign was designed to nurture girls, especially in developing countries, to promote their rights, and bring them out of poverty. The idea of a National Day was born during this campaign and grew when its Canadian representatives requested the Canadian federal government seek a coalition of supporters, and people listened. Formally proposed by Canada, on December 19, 2011 the United Nations General Assembly successfully adopted the resolution of recognizing October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child.
Girls around the world face violence, discrimination and lack of access to basic necessities every day. An estimated 130 million girls worldwide do not attend school and one of the major obstacles to an education is the lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities. Many schools have unsafe latrines or unsanitary water supplies, making it impossible for girls to remain in school when they begin to menstruate. The shortage of safe, separate and private sanitation and washing facilities make it nearly impossible for girls to regularly attend school, missing up to 20% of learning time and leading to high drop out numbers.
UNICEF facilitates the WASH campaign (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in schools. This program teaches and encourages good hygiene practices which improves learning for all students. When students, especially girls, are taught hygiene skills in school they bring those home to their families and wider community. Schools with clean running water and working toilets qualify for UNICEF Food Programs thus keeping students at school and learning. When girls are educated, they lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
“Fighting for equality for girls can even be controversial in some parts of the world. But with a lot of hard work, the Day of the Girl became a reality, and remains important for girls around the world.” The Honourable Rona Ambrose – Leader. Advocate. Coach. Canadian