Since 2011, the United Nations has designated October 11 a holiday: the International Day of the Girl. Each year, organizations around the world focus on the conditions facing young women at home and abroad. The 2015 celebration focuses on the ways in which 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — including access to education and the eradication of poverty and hunger — can impact and improve the lives of 10-to-19-year-old girls and young women throughout the world.
The issues limiting adolescent girls' social, economic, and political options sit at the intersection of sexism and ageism. Girls' voices are often silenced or ignored by majority oppressors who don't believe in their worth or ability. International Day of the Girl is about recognizing young women's power and encouraging them to speak out and rise up.
There are plenty of ways to get involved with worthy charities for this girl-power holiday, but I understand if you're wary. We are all inundated with messages about how silly, emotional, and flighty teen girls are, and many of us catch ourselves making anti-girl statements when we hear about the "drama" of their lives.
If you're interested in changing how you view girls, the best way to start is by educating yourself. To that end, I've selected five great, pro-girl books for you to read in celebration of the International Day of the Girl.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
In 2012, then-15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban agents angered by her demand for an education. Today, Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to win a Noble Prize and has opened a school for refugee girls in Lebanon. I Am Malala is her story.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Behind the Beautiful Forevers follows the residents of a Mumbai slum as they try to dig their way out of poverty. The novel devotes particular attention to Asha, who is willing to do nearly anything to create a better life for her family, and her daughter, who may become the first in their community to earn a college degree.
Because I Am a Girl by Joanne Harris, et al.
Fashioned from interviews with young women in developing countries, the seven stories that make up Because I Am a Girl focus on the most pressing issues facing adolescent girls today. From child marriage to malnutrition, these are the same problems the UN hopes to eliminate with its SDGs.
Girl at War by Sara Nović
Sara Nović's Girl at War centers on Ana: a former child soldier now living with her younger sister in the U.S. Drawn into a pilgrimage back to their native Croatia, Ana begins to heal deep wounds and understand her relationship to her family and friends.
Rookie Yearbook One by Tavi Gevenson, editor
Tavi Gevenson's Rookiemag.com is an online magazine written for teen girls, by teen girls. Rookie Yearbook One, with its zine-like layout and enlightened brand of young feminism, is a must-have for anyone who wants to know what's right about the up-and-coming generation.