Origin of Day of the Girl

By: Nikki W.

On Twitter, @womensmediacntr and @jarrahpenguin ask, “What is the origin of Day of the Girl?” The answer is: girls themselves!*

The Day of the Girl grew out of the experiences of a group of girls in Maryland working to provide scholarships for girls in Mali to attend school, in a partnership aimed at raising both groups’ awareness of the lives of girls everywhere.


UNICEF identified Mali as having the worst situation among developing countries: the majority of girls never graduate from elementary school, many become child brides, and the majority of women are illiterate. But these issues are not exclusive to Mali, and in fact exist across the globe, even in the United States.

As both groups of girls learned more about the barriers that all girls face across the world, they rightly saw that the systemic change required to improve girls’ lives would require a bigger and more ambitious outreach program.

Around this time, the girls connected with Plan Canada’s Because I Am A Girl campaign, and the two groups began to discuss the idea of an international Day of the Girl–a global call to claim a day in the name of girls, to raise awareness about the unique challenges facing girls, as well as the key role they play in addressing poverty and development. Since then, the Day of the Girl campaign has been on a mission to establish national days of recognition in both countries.

But we’re not stopping there. In February 2011, a delegation of girls attended the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York to call for an international Day of the Girl to raise global awareness and to advance developments in gender equality and universal basic education, as well as child marriage prevention and other human rights issues.

In March 2011, Canadian Parliament passed a motion supporting the effort to achieve a United Nations Resolution to proclaim September 22 the International Day of the Girl. In the United States, we have built a strong coalition of women’s organizations, civil and human rights groups, and youth partnerships to build grassroots support for the movement. At the same time, the school girls driving this effort have met with city, county, and federal government officials and representatives to push for a national day for girls.

On September 22, 2011, the campaign will kick off a year-long campaign to show the country why we need a Day of the Girl. Our goal is to achieve a Presidential Proclamation in 2012.

*TL:DR version: a group of girls realized that the world ain’t gonna change unless they changed it, so they created a campaign to focus on gender equity in all areas of girls’ lives, with the goal of establishing an annual national day of recognition and awareness.

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