By: Wendy Lesko
One year before the United Nations approved the resolution to establish the International Day of the Girl Child, nearly 100 young activists with School Girls Unite initiated the successful national campaign to mobilize U.S. support for this annual girls’ rights day. As October 11th approaches, these change agents continue to expand the U.S. Action Team by including girls from all backgrounds and persuasions across the country to help drive this effort. “We’re on the precipice of something big,” predicts Anika Manzoor, 22, who’s been an advocate for gender equality since age 12. Eliana Stanislawski, 17, emphasizes that it’s not enough to just learn about the problem: “There has to be value in that knowledge that incites action.”
Even with dozens of festering inequities and not one single mega-issue, Joanne Conelley, who has been an architect of this campaign from the beginning, says “We want girls to take ownership and make this Day ours.” The new tagline, Day of the Girl-US…A 100% Youth-Led Movement, should trigger a massive applause, especially from adults whose mantra is “to empower young people.” Instead, some girl-serving organizations have expressed concerns about this explicit independent move.
As a member of the graying generation, I believe what is needed more than ever is for the rising generation to chart a new path. This seismic adult attitude adjustment is bolstered by the facts presented by Mike Males, senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, who writes in Transforming Young Adult Services (American Library Association, 2013):
“A global multiculture in which America harbors major representation from all five inhabited continents means that young people now make better citizens than older ones…I suspect that the young today possess more skills necessary to the continuity of our society as it evolves into a worldly polyglot than do the old.”
That’s a future vision worth celebrating!
Bio: Wendy Lesko is president of the Youth Activism Project, author of several books, and serves as an advisor to Day of the Girl-US.