A message from Days for Girl’s founder, Celeste Mergens.
Today is the UN proclaimed International Day of the Girl. Growing up, my step-dad often grumbled about wanting a boy. He had 4 girls at the time. In our house there was a lot of talk about women drivers and "don't be such a girl.” It was a time of many type casts for girls. In fact, when I got to college intent on studying Engineering, a few of the young men in my first class literally turned and said, "So what are you doing in Engineering?" I was one of only two women in the entire program. But those examples are of course nothing compared to the raw and dangerous circumstances that girls all over the world fall prey to. So many doors are closed to them, but that is changing. The Girl Effect is in full swing. And the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize was just announced; Malala Yousafzai, 17, is a girl. One that triumphed over injuries from a bullet fired into her head by the Taliban, because she dared to advocate for girls rights to education. She recovered and returned to activism despite the danger. She shares the prize with Mr. Satyarthi, 60, whose ongoing efforts have rescued trafficked children from slavery. Yes, it is a good day for girls. A good day for children. A good day for the world.
Malala dedicated her prize to the "voiceless." There are still millions of girls and women, and for that matter their brothers, sons and fathers, who feel voiceless, powerless and without hope. There are many needs that they share and Malala is right, education is one of the keystones to change. On this day, as we celebrate International Day of the Girl, there is a lot to cheer. Like the fact that all over the world we are standing up for girls. Here at Days for Girls International we get to witness hundreds of everyday heroes sacrificing their time, talents and resources to give girls voice and help them stay in school in a direct, effective and meaningful way. In fact, today many are doing a Global Sewathon to bring more attention, support, and solutions to girls around the globe. Many of these hundreds of volunteers spanning 6 continents are literally working around the clock right now to raise awareness. Those very heroes are willing to break taboos in their wake as they speak up and tell the world not only that girls, women and communities matter but also that without periods there would be no people and that there is a simple, effective way that we can help.
Today as I write this my heart is filled with gratitude for the hope that someday the phrase “It’s a girl” will not mean risk of gendercide, exploitation, less voice, opportunity and safety. Someday we will all say, we are a global family. When a girl rises, we all rise, and every voice matters. Just ask Malala.