Without Us, the International Day of the Girl is Just an Ideal
Andrea W. Doray
Two days before that, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
And four days before that, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted from her Westminster, Colorado, neighborhood, to be found murdered a week later.
Malala—who has inspired people around the world with her public stand against the Taliban’s ban on education for girls—is recovering in a hospital in Britain.
Jessica—who united a community in its search for her, and united a nation in its support of her family—did not survive.
The ideals of the International Day of the Girl…
What happened to Malala and Jessica is in stark contrast to the ideals of the International Day of the girl, adopted by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights and to create awareness of the unique challenges girls face around the world.
Other organizations, in celebrating the International Day of the Girl, have said that, “When girls have the opportunity to be educated…society as a whole benefits.”
And both Malala and Jessica loved school. One, Jessica, was on her way to school when she disappeared. The other, Malala, was on her way home from school when she was shot by assassins sent from the Pakistani Taliban.
Tragically, it is our horror and disbelief that connect the 10-year-old from a quiet and nurturing Denver suburb with the 14-year-old from a village in northwestern Pakistan.
Both beloved by their families, both innocents, both children.
Both targeted, in part, for their gender.
An international travesty…
I believe that few of us would disagree that what happened to these girls is a travesty…a travesty against their youth, a travesty against their justice, a travesty against their right to exist.
And I believe that these two violent acts are violence against us, as well. When the world’s children are attacked, all of us are attacked…attacked to the very foundations of society.
Because anywhere girls are supported in reaching their potentials can be a society of secure futures for families and for communities, for nations and, by reasonable extension, the world.
In Colorado, USA, a program called “The Blossom Project” gathered proclamations from around the state to honor girls and hosted events to celebrate October 11.
The Blossom Project uses education to inspire high school girls to create visionary change, believing that young women play a critical role in the development of global civil society.
Some sobering statistics…
However, according to the National Women’s Law Center, one in four girls in America does not finish high school, and the Population Resource Bureau says that only 30% of girls worldwide are ever even enrolled in secondary school.
UNESCO—the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—reports also that, by 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read.
The ideals of the International Day of the Girl that help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm to improve the lives of girls are just that—ideals—without the attention and action of people like you and me. Contact Writing for Peace for ways to help.
In their honor…
Malala Yousufzai, when she recovers, may get the chance to continue her education, to reach her potential, to play her role in the development of global civil society.
Jessica Ridgeway will not.
Don’t both of these girls deserve our action, in their honor, to make sure that other young girls do?
Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.
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