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Written by guest editor Kelsie, a student from Washington. She is a part of the World Vision Ignite and Advocacy programs.
Today is a day for girls! Established by the United Nations 10 years ago, the International Day of the Girl occurs on October 11th each year and calls attention to the inequality that girls and women face around the world. Lack of access to education, discriminative laws, child marriage, and human trafficking are realities for millions of girls. The Day of the Girl celebrates the worth and power in every girl and acknowledges that when we invest in girls, the returns are immeasurable! In a world where girls are often pushed down, coming together today to recognize their worth and potential is a beacon of hope for young girls like me.
Opening my eyes to the world around me
So today is a day for girls. And while I’m celebrating today, my journey started the day I learned how I could help change the world. I’ve known of World Vision for many years, and my church has been involved with sponsoring children. But I was never directly involved — not until my sophomore year of high school when the World Vision’s Ignite curriculum, along with their Chosen program, was integrated into my English class. The curriculum was eye-opening. We learned about the complexities of deep poverty and its material, emotional, and spiritual consequences on communities. I also connected with my own sponsored child in Honduras and exchanged letters. Then the day came when my teacher announced that we had the opportunity to travel to a youth advocacy summit and I felt a tug in my heart that I needed to sign up.
Finding my voice but using their words
At the summit, I learned about plenty of injustices in need of change. I also learned that I had a voice, and that my voice had the power to enact change on the injustices in our world. Since then, I have tried to find every way I could to be involved with World Vision and advocate for children and families around the world.
Today is a day for girls. But what does that mean? The International Day of the Girl calls on each of us to advocate for the rights and safety of girls. Many say advocacy is using your voice, and that’s true. However, for me, it’s not only about using my own words. It’s about amplifying the words of those in need whose voices have grown hoarse after years of calling for justice. Advocacy is joining voices and calling out their word louder so that decision makers can hear. The more people who advocate, the louder the call and the better the decision-makers can hear and understand what needs to be done to help.
Our voices as youth are mighty and compelling because we represent not only the present but also the future of our communities. Because of this, several other students and I, along with some of World Vision’s staff, are working together to start a youth advocacy union so that others with a passion like ours can be involved in enacting change.
Advocating to keep girls in school
Education is vital for helping girls lift themselves out of poverty. Education allows women to work and be independent because they don’t have to rely on others for income. School is the gateway to opportunity that helps girls reach their untapped potential. Right now, there are 139 million school-aged girls around the world who are unable to attend school. Those who are able to attend school are often unable to stay in school long enough to graduate. Girls are out of school for a variety of reasons. Challenges like child marriage, migration caused by conflict or hunger, or having to carry water from a distant source can all keep girls from finishing their education. When girls can’t attend school, they remain in the unfortunate circumstance that kept them out of school, creating a cycle of lack of opportunity.
However, there are ways to rectify this. When the structure of impoverished communities has lasting change, girls can return to school. When a community has a well, girls can put down their water cans and return to school. When communities protect girls from child marriages, they can stay in school. But it takes the support of governments and organizations to make these changes, and it takes our advocacy to propel those into action. That’s why World Vision Advocates like me are using our voices to ask Congress to pass the Keeping Girls in School Act that will give girls around the world the resources they need to finish their education. I believe it’s a duty of Christians to speak up, and I believe young girls like me have the strength to advocate for education opportunities for our sisters.
Every day is a day for girls to be powerful
Today is a day for girls to stand up and speak out, and for all of us to recognize and fight against the struggles hindering girls’ potential. The United Nations, World Vision and partners around the world have recognized the capabilities of our girls and women by establishing this observance day. And now it is our job, as girls, to return on the investment and take advantage of our influence and strength to reach our full potential and better the world. Today is a day for girls. But so was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day after that. Because every day is a day for a girl to be powerful.
On International Day of the Girl, we urge you to show your support for improving girls’ access to quality education by asking your members of Congress to cosponsor the Keeping Girls in School Act. Help us get the bill over the finish line in the 117th Congress:
Top photo: Young girls gather at their school in Bolivia. (©2017 World Vision/
Jose Luis Roca)