A new granddaughter has just arrived in my family! Our family celebrates the arrival of baby girls and boys with equal joy, and her birthday will remain a truly significant day for us. In many parts of the world, however, there is a gap where baby girls should have been. Entire regions now have millions more boys than girls, due to the pressures of cultural taboos and poverty.
A few years ago, a beautiful young woman in Bangladesh told me that she had prayed to never to have a baby girl “because I never wanted a girl to have to go through what I did.” After participating in the Days for Girls Ambassador of Women's Health training, however, she now hoped to have a girl “to teach her that she matters.” That was a significant day for me, too.
What if this were the last generation to value one gender over another? What if this were the last generation to face shame and stigma around menstruation?
May is filled with significant days. On May 13, the United States will observe Mother’s Day — a celebration not just of women who have borne a child, but of the true significance, sacrifice, and joy of nurturing the next generation. A few weeks later, on May 28, the world will observe the fifth annual Menstrual Hygiene Day. This is another occasion for celebrating the circle of life, because without periods, there would be no people.
Let’s celebrate mothers and daughters, women and girls, every day, every month, all year long. I will also be celebrating all that you do to lift communities every day, all over the world. It’s working. Happy May!
Celeste Mergens is CEO and Founder of Days for Girls International.