October 11th: International Day of the Girl Child

The UN has declared that October the 11th 2012 will mark the very first International Day of the Girl Child.

In response to a call first raised in 2009, and spearheaded by charity group Plan International as part of their ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, the resolution to observe an ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ was passed in December of 2011. The day, which will be observed annually on October 11th, aims to “raise awareness of the situation of girls around the world” for all UN Member States and international organisations as well as civil society.

As highlighted within the resolution, some of the goals of the day are economic, considering girls to perform a central role in the economic advancement of developing nations (a sentiment that is not unproblematic – as well articulated within critiques of Nike’s ‘Girl Effect’ campaign). Meanwhile, more promising outcomes of the observance can be found in the focus on human rights, encouraging “the meaningful participation of girls in the decisions that affect them”. A further promising aspect of the resolution can be found in the acknowledgement that it is not only parents and guardians that perform a central role in the empowerment of girls, but also boys, men, and the wider community.

This UN recognition of girls as important mirrors the ever increasing academic interest in girls that we have seen in recent times. Where, in the last year alone, we have seen the emergence of the International Girls Studies Association alongside longer running organisations such as FlickForsk!, as well as many girl focused conferences being held at academic institutions such as those in Brunel, Melbourne and York.

Through observance of the International Day of the Girl Child each October 11th, we are offered a unique opportunity to hold events and engage not only with girls themselves, but also the wider community on the topic of girlhood. Additionally, members of GEA may find that one of the focuses being pushed by Plan for the day – that of girls education – is of particular interest.

Victoria Cann, University of East Anglia

We hope that many GEA members hold seminars, workshops, exhibitions and performances to celebrate this day. Please get in touch so we can advertise your events on our sites including Facebook and Twitter. We would also love to hear your reports or footage for our YouTube channel.

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