This year, October 11 marks the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child. The United Nations General Assembly declared this day by adopting Resolution 66/170 in 2011. The intention is to recognize the rights of girls around the world and bring awareness to the unique challenges they face daily. Much progress has been made globally in the last decade but the disparity, between boys and girls, in access to basic human rights is still shocking when you check the numbers.
How to get involved
The UN has several suggestions for activists and advocates who want to help the continued advancement of this movement. Among them are to engage government officials, public policy makers, key influencers across industries, and all other stakeholders to make more targeted investments to address inequalities experienced by girls everywhere. Another suggestion they make is to share human interest stories, blogs, and videos of girl change-makers to amplify their impact on others.
You can find more suggestions on UNICEF’s website or check out YouTube for stories about girl influencers such as Malala Yousafzai too. But, as a man in a family of mostly women, I’d like to recognize this day by sharing the story of the girl change-makers in my life with all of you. I hope reading this makes you want to publicly share a story of your own to recognize the powerful girls in your own life and to help grow this movement for them.
I’ve written a blog before about the role my aunts and uncles played in my formation and the way becoming an uncle to my nieces changed my life. But I don’t mention in that article how my nieces have changed my perspective of what girls can do. Now, to be clear, I’m not a misogynistic person and I’ve never been accused of being one. I was raised in a family where my grandma, and then my mother, called most of the shots and it never felt strange or especially progressive to anybody. Many other families like ours were very similar. I learned early and often that all women are deserving of respect.
But growing up on a farm, I was always taught that I should do the “heavy, hard” things to spare my grandmother, mother, sister, and cousins (all girls) from the most physical of tasks. This attitude towards division of labor never seemed particularly biased to me until years after my childhood when my father started to age. As dad got older and his physical capabilities began to erode, I began to realize that he just couldn’t do some of the things I needed him to do anymore. Things came to a head one day when I needed help in the field and my dad couldn’t get out of bed, let alone into a skid steer. Luckily, my youngest niece was available and that became the first day she operated equipment solo. She was 7.
Since then, both of my nieces have learned how to use tools, pick sweetcorn, handle livestock, get the Christmas tree for grandma each year, and many other things I never expected them to need to learn.
Their abilities have been proven many more times over the years, especially in the last one. Since my dad passed away last October, I rely on them more than ever now. But they never cease to surprise me. Even when my mom’s mailbox was hit recently, they didn’t need me. Instead, they took care of grandma together.
Today, I no longer even ask my girls if they can do something. The concept that they can’t has completely left my consideration. Now, I simply ask them if they will do something and then I watch them do it even better than I can. Girls can do that, or so I’ve learned. It stopped surprising me years ago.
I hope you’ve learned more about International Day of the Girl Child, or at least been led to think about it, than you would have without this article. We’ve done blogs on other national and international days that you might like learning more about too. Check them out on our blog page. And, of course, if you have other resume tips or questions just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article.