Every year since 2012, we celebrate the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, to recognize how hard being a girl is even to this day. The United Nations created the holiday, sometimes called International Day of the Girl Child, to celebrate the potential of the girls in different cultures around the world, and to highlight the threats, discrimination, and issues facing their well-being. Girls worldwide deserve better: better education, better survival rates, better protection from child marriage and sexual assault, better access to resources, better health outcomes, and a better future. It's a very tall order considering some of the challenges afoot, but the UN and others are hopeful that Oct. 11 can be a rallying cry with which to empower girls worldwide.
Making the world better for girls makes the world better for everybody, period. The World Bank, for instance, points out that girls with education grow into women who "tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers." These factors combined, they say, "help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty" — but UNESCO notes that 116 million women across developing countries worldwide have never completed primary school, and that two-thirds of the illiterate population worldwide are female. The costs of holding girls back are big for everybody. This International Day of the Girl, we remember these inequities while celebrating girls' resilience and strength.