Today is the International Day of the Girl – a day to celebrate the amazingness of girls everywhere; A day we get to appreciate what the girls in our life have, to understand how lucky we are and to attempt to spread the word and try to redress a few injustices.
This is my eldest granddaughter Bethany who turned sixteen this week. She’s healthy and happy, she lives in a nice house in a nice suburb and she gets three meals a day with snacks in between.
She goes to school, she plays sport and she sings with the school choir. She eats out in restaurants and she flies across Australia each year to spend Christmas with the rest of the family.
She’s never had to fight for her education or her rightful place in society.
This is Sabita, at 16 she had an eight-month-old baby boy. She was married when she was 14.
Sabita said, “When I was 14, my family started talking about my marriage which I couldn’t deny as this is the tradition in our village, it was a kind of pressure.
“We are poor. My mother and my brother used to work as labourers. I had to drop out from school when I was in grade two. During my first pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling well. I vomited and couldn’t eat anything except milk. Now, my baby boy isn’t very healthy. I realise my life has been negatively changed after getting married at early age.”
This is Emily, she’s my youngest grandchild and she’s eleven years old. She loves to dance and has lessons several times a week. She takes part in dance competitions and concerts and she’s a bundle of energy.
She goes to movies and shows with friends and loves to spend time swimming in my pool in the summer. She’s insightful and bouncy and loyal to her friends and she gets to enjoy her passion for dancing.
Emily finishes primary school this year and is excited to be going to high school with her friends next year. On a world scale she’s lucky. With society in general placing a lower priority on educating girls than on educating boys, one in three girls in the world are denied the education that we take for granted. Less than half of the girls in developing countries complete primary school.
Many girls Emily’s age are expected to stay home and help with domestic work, there is less concern for their health and nutrition and one in seven are forced into marriage before they turn fifteen.
As a grandmother I am enormously grateful that my granddaughters have the choice to be who they choose to be and will not be forced into a life that will inhibit their creativity and stifle their drive and their determination to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life.
The fact that I have the ability and the freedom to visit a country where girls as young as twelve are forced into marriage and motherhood well before they are ready startles me at times. The lives that we lead are so far removed from those who live only a plane ride away.
I’m a great supporter of Plan International who have branches in several countries, and their Because I am a Girl Campaign. Through Plan I sponsor Pushpi, she’s twelve years old and she lives in the western part of Nepal, in a community that is gradually learning the value of education and health and sanitation.
It’s well worth having a look at the work that Plan do in attempting to not only redress the balance and educate communities as to the value of the girls in society but work in so many other areas also to improve the lives of so many.
Today on International Day of the Girl count your blessings. Look at your daughters, your granddaughters, the women in your family and in your circle of friends and then think about the lives that some girls live.
Maybe you can help, in some small way, to change the lives of girls in countries with far less tolerance and understanding than our own.
It would be really great if you can share this post with as many of your friends and readers as possible – the more exposure this issue attracts the more positive the outcome could be for girls everywhere.