In 2011, the UN declared October 11 the International Day of the Girl "to recognize girls' rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world." Four years later, third wave feminism is in full force and expanding globally through increasing awareness of women's issues and international relief efforts. Support for female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is declining in countries where the practice is most widespread, gender parity in education is slowly improving, and as technology is becoming more pervasive throughout the world, women have more access to opportunities than ever before.
But there is still a lot to be done, even right here in the United States, supposedly the most advanced country in the world. The wage gap is brutal, especially for women of color, only 24 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and the 2016 presidential race only has two prominent female contenders. Women have taken great strides toward equality, but there's still a lot of work to be done.
International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to reflect on how much progress girls have made and how far there still is to go before equality is achieved globally. Education and activism, which are denied to so many girls throughout the world, is a tool that all girls should utilize in celebration of this holiday. Read here what you can do to honor girls around the world.
Learn About Girls Who Are Changing The World
Unless you have been living under a very well insulated rock, you know all about international activist Malala Yousafzai, the incredible 18-year-old women's rights campaigner who already has a Nobel Peace Prize. Her rise to global prominence has been a great advancement in the fight for girls around the world and brought attention to education inequality, one of the biggest issues facing girls worldwide today. But there are countless others girls who are making a difference across the world, like Behnaz Shafiei, a badass Iranian motorcross racer who is fighting for gender equality in sports.
Check out this powerful song "Strong Girl", featuring 14-year-old Blessing Nwafor, a South African musician and rapper who is already teaching the world about the power of African women.
There are so many girls who are showing off their intelligence and wisdom through their activism and in honor of this holiday, they absolutely need to be celebrated.
Make Women's Rights Part Of Your Social Media Routine
There are also a ton of great blogs for feminist inspiration, like Teen Feminist, run by high school sophomore Jules Spector, who is already accruing an impressive résumé as a feminist activist. If you like that, check out Feministing, a popular blog for young feminists. There's also Bustle, the lovely feminist website that you're already on! Whatever channels you prefer, make intersectional feminism a part of your daily social media interactions.
Organize A Fund-Raiser
Most charities will be more than happy to help you organize a fund-raiser in your community to support their cause. Heifer International, an organization that works to end world hunger, has great fundraising resources on their website. You can also get a free event support package from Free the Children to help you raise money to support girls' access to education. There's always the classic bake sale, or scour through this list of creative fund-raising ideas to find the perfect idea. By raising money and bringing awareness to your community about the problems girls face every day, you can show your support for women everywhere.
Host An Event
There were some exciting events hosted this weekend to celebrate International Day of the Girl, but if you don't live near any of those areas, plan an event yourself! If you want to go big, you can plan a Day of the Girl convention, like the amazing annual celebration in Buffalo, New York. Or have a sew-a-thon to make washable feminine hygiene kits, like one group in Seattle did. Even though October 11 is the official Day of the Girl, you can advertise your event through the website at anytime and keep the feminism flowing all year long.
Have A Girl Gang Get-Together
Have the girls over to talk about modern feminism and the issues still facing girls globally. Watch some documentaries like Miss Representation and It's a Girl to explore the range of discrimination and persecution girls face today. Events like these are equally important as fund-raising or volunteering — in order to have systematic change in the future, girls need to be educated and inspired to become leaders who will influence policy at the global level.
Women have fought through terrible inequality, oppression, and subjugation and keep coming out on top. But there's still a lot to accomplish, and it's incredibly important that all women have access to their basic human rights. That's why International Day of the Girl exists — to remind everyone how far women have come and how far the world still has to go to reach equality. And if the patriarchy ever gets you down, just remember:
Images: Lilli Loveday/Tostan.org, Giphy.com (2), Day of the Girl Buffalo/Facebook, Netflix