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The world gets ready for the first International Day of the Girl Child

LatinaLista — Shock and outrage are still reverberating around the world over the senseless shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan. Shot by a Taliban gunman because she challenged the Islamic extremists in advocating that all girls should get an education, Malala should be, if she’s not already, the poster child for the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child to be observed on Thursday, October 11.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 19, 2011 to establish the international observance as a way to recognize girls’ rights, focus on the challenges they face and promote their empowerment to overcome them. Yet, the UN’s involvement was only the official endorsement of an idea that was begun by PLAN, an international child-centered organization that works with children, communities and local governments to bring about positive change.

PLAN was in the early stages of a new campaign promoting girls’ rights to quality education called Because I am a Girl. A key part of that campaign was getting the UN to sanction a global observance of girls’ rights. With help from the Canadian government, PLAN’s idea about the international observance was proposed to the UN, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

On October 11, PLAN will not only celebrate the accomplishment of getting International Day of the Girl Child on calendars the world over but is globally launching their Because I am a Girl campaign too. Because I am a Girl focuses strictly on education for girls.

However, the UN has set the theme for the first International Day of the Girl Child to focus on ending child marriages.

Child marriage denies a girl her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of being a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities.

Clearly, both child marriages and quality education feed into one another underscoring the fact that in the end it’s education that liberates girls and sets them on a path of personal and professional success.

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