One date earmarked for our diaries was set in October 2011 by the United Nations, which declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child to help raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world. It’s a day when different activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss and take action to advance rights, and opportunities for girls everywhere.
As the nature and scale of barriers facing girls becomes more complex, innovative strategies are needed to give girls an education that prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century. The world still needs to evaluate the gaps that remain in order to achieve global goals for gender equality in education and define a clear agenda that moves beyond the Millennium Development Goals, it is critical that modern ideas bring about solutions for improving girls’ education that are not only more creative, but also more effective, efficient, sustainable and just.
We need girls everywhere to be seen as equals, in the eyes of everyone, including their own. Children International is an organisation that does many things to empower children and youths globally. It is focused to deliver programs that help and prepares girls stay healthier, become educated, avoid early marriage, pregnancy and pursue the lives they choose to lead. It has certainly has done that with 18-year-old Susmita who possesses an air of quiet, fierce, dignity. A girl who has managed to change her destiny, she manages a vegetable cart on the bustling streets of Kolkata, India and unlike her two older sisters – and nearly half of all young women in India – Susmita didn’t marry before her 18th birthday.
After completing public school, Susmita’s family were set upon getting her married; however, this young girl had other ideas and wanted to study. She credits her involvement with the Children International’s youth programs which gave her the inner strength she needed to persevere against traditional gender type. The Youth Program raised her levels of confidence and enhanced her negotiation skills, and it is these life skills that have helped Susmita overcome the challenges she faces every day in the family.
Now, thanks to Susmita’s hard work and a HOPE scholarship, this young woman who tends to the vegetable cart in the morning and then attends college courses in the afternoon wants to become a teacher. Susmita says, “The aim of my life is to be self-sufficient and the HOPE scholarship is like a boon that has changed the course of my life.” October 11 is not just a day; it’s a movement, a worldwide revolution to create a better, equal world for girls.
Photo Credit: Children International
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