As has been well-documented in this blog, Thursday 11th October 2012 was the very first ever International Day of the Girl. It was a day that was celebrated across the world; in its honour the London Eye turned pink, as did the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids. Plan, the international children’s charity instrumental in making the day happen, led a series of activities across the globe to celebrate, including in London, and I had the privilege to be there, as did some of my girls from my then school. After an early morning start on the London Eye, where the girls met inspirational women and were ‘speed-mentored’, they gathered in London’s Festival Hall to hear girls from the developing world explain why an education is so important to them and to their communities, and to hear what hurdles – poverty, violence, early and forced marriage – stand in their way.
It was a very special day – eye-opening for the students and a revelation to many about the circumstances in which millions of girls in the world are growing up. They heard and took on board the message that for so many of their peers, an education is not a right or an expectation, and as a result, I think that they valued their own education just that (important) bit more.
But the message of the International Day of the Girl cannot be limited to the efforts of one day. The message was both the culmination of, and the very start of, a series of initiatives which have always been intended to be for the long term, uncompromising in their focus on a future in which all girls, everywhere, have the right to expect an education and the support of their community as they learn the skills that will allow them in due course to make a positive and significant difference to that very same community.
This year, on Friday 11th October, the second International Day of the Girl, we will be leading the world in walking the world to support Plan to raise awareness and money for the education of those 66 million girls worldwide who are denied access to an education. The circumference of the world is 40,075km; if 4008 girls join together and each walk just 10km, then we will have accomplished the feat of walking around the world. We are excited already.
Watch this video of the International Day of the Girl in London last year. It is uplifting and inspiring. And remember to keep your sights, too, on a future where the girl child is valued and honoured for the considerable value that she can bring to the world.