International Day of the Girl Child: Raising girls’ and young women’s voices for an equal future

The International Day of the Girl Child, declared by the United Nations and observed annually on October 11, focuses on ensuring equal rights and opportunities for young and adolescent girls worldwide.

This year, under the theme ‘My Voice, Our Equal Future’, the International Day of the Girl Child presents an opportunity to be inspired by all the young and adolescent girls demanding change across the globe. It is also a time to reflect upon the importance of standing by these girls as they advocate for their rights. 

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action set an important landmark in this pursuit–it was the first declaration to specifically call for girls’ rights. Since its establishment in 1995, there has been significant progress in this regard, as noted by UNICEF’s ‘A New Era for Girls’ report:

“Today’s more than 1.1 billion girls are poised to take on the future. Every day, girls are breaking boundaries and barriers to lead and foster a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all. They are tackling issues like child marriage, education inequality, violence, climate justice, and inequitable access to healthcare. Girls are proving they are unstoppable.”

To continue in the right direction, supporting and encouraging girls’ and young women’s activism is key. The ‘Girls’ And Young Women’s Activism And Organizing In West Africa’ report presented by development and humanitarian organization Plan International shows that the landscape for youth- and girl-led activism in the region still faces a number of challenges, including girl activists “not being taken seriously and feeling taken advantage of by adults who they work with but don’t give them sufficient space to make decisions or do meaningful work.”

At the EJS Center, we firmly believe that amplifying the leadership, actions, and impact of girls and young women is fundamental to strengthening their representation and encouraging more girls to aspire for positions in public service. On this International Day of the Girl Child, we would like to acclaim all of the girl activists and girl-led organizations leading efforts towards positive social change, including gender equality, in their communities and beyond.

Here are some inspiring initiatives to follow and support:

Girls Governance Camp: A project from the Leading Ladies’ Network – founded by Amujae Leader Yawa Hansen-Quao – aimed at nurturing the next generation of African women leaders. The initiative promotes a 4-day camp where young girls have the opportunity to foster important skills to become leaders across their fields of interest. Learn more here

Girls Aspire: An initiative from the pro-girl nonprofit organization Girl Pride Circle that intends to create space for Africa’s next generation of women leaders by providing a platform for girls to connect with women politicians and learn about political processes and governance. Learn more here.

African Girls Congress: A year-long program led by the non-profit organization Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa. The program engages and equips a diverse cohort of exceptional African girls with the right skills to aspire and position themselves for future leadership roles. Learn more here.

Brave: An organization that inspires and empowers girl leaders across the African continent. They support girl-led initiatives, including a focus on using travel and adventure in wild places to build leadership skills. Learn more here.

Girls Get Equal: A global campaign led by Plan International demanding power, freedom, and representation for girls and young women. Some of their actions include providing an ‘Activist Hub’ with inspirations, tools, and resources for campaigners. Learn more here. 

Girl2Leader: An initiative launched by Women Political Leaders (WPL) aimed at inspiring girls to seek public leadership positions and equipping them with the tools to lead. For the International Day of the Girl Child, the initiative will be hosting a conversation between a group of young girls and women politicians. Learn more here

Girl Up: Founded by the United Nations Foundation, this global movement aims to inspire a generation of girls to be a force for gender equality and social change. Girl Up’s leadership development programs have impacted 75,000 girls through 4,000 Clubs in nearly 125 countries. Learn more here

If you know of other initiatives or organizations we should highlight, please let us know!

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