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International Day of the Girl

Girls' Rights Are Human Rights

Emma Watson in Malawi on October 10, 2016, the day before International Day of The Girl. speaking with schoolgirls whose marriages were annulled

Apsara Rangarajan, Features Writer

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On October 11th, the world celebrated International Day of the Girl (also known as International Day of the Girl Child).

Created by the United Nations and first celebrated in 2012, International Day of the Girl is meant to bring awareness to a number of issues, including various inequalities, affecting girls across the world. Although we are lucky enough to live in a country where girls are educated and women are allowed to have legal rights, such as the right to vote, many countries do not offer these same privileges to their female citizens.

In addition to women’s suffrage, International Day of the Girl also spreads awareness about women’s health, safety, education, and universal rights. However, the topic that International Day of the Girl seeks to bring the most awareness to is the abolition of child marriages.

Unfortunately, many women in developing countries are subjected to child marriages. Child marriages restrict women because they usually signify the end of a woman’s opportunity to receive education, making women more vulnerable to other human rights abuses. In addition, the UN Women website  has a number of statistics and facts that show that child marriages prevent women from reaching their true potential. One of these statistics shows that “in developing countries (excluding China), one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. This means the futures of 47,700 girls are derailed every day”.  It is clear that child marriages limit females greatly.  

In fact, Emma Watson, a UN Women Goodwill ambassador and celebrity known for her role in the Harry Potter movies as Hermione Granger, recently spoke in Malawi about ending child marriages.

“Spending the day in the beautiful country of Malawi has been a moving and inspiring experience for me. Meeting with young girls, who like many in their country, are struggling with poverty and were pressured into early marriage, depriving them of their education in the process, made me realize just how important it is for women to be able to make their own choices. It’s so encouraging to see how such a harmful practice can be stopped when communities work together to pass laws, and then turn those laws into reality,” noted Emma Watson.

International Day of the Girl focuses on issues that will undeniably shape the future. Hopefully, it will continue to educate people on some of the challenges women in numerous countries across the globe face.

As UN Women’s executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka puts it, “Without progress for girls, there can be no real progress.”


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International Day of the Girl