Everything has a day now. Taco Day. Donut Day. Dachshund Day. They’re fun and silly and allow us to celebrate the things we love. But sometimes a day is about so much more than eating a certain food or doing a certain activity. Sometimes, it’s about saving lives and making the world a better, safer, more equal place – for everyone. That’s exactly what International Day of the Girl is about. And that day is today.
This year’s theme is “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.” The day has an impressive history. About twenty-five years ago in Beijing, people from nearly 200 countries gathered at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Their goal was to recognize the rights of women and girls as human rights.
And that is exactly what they did with the conference culminating in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. To date, it is the most comprehensive policy agenda for the empowerment of women, leading global movements on issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights to equal pay.
The good news is that today more girls are both attending and completing school, fewer girls are getting married or becoming mothers while still children themselves, and more girls than ever are acquiring the skills needed to excel work world. Every year the movement expands with programs being organized by and for adolescent girls.
They address a wealth of issues that girls around the world face, including child marriage, education inequality, gender-based violence, climate change, self-esteem, and girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation.
A wealth of non-profits have sprung up to work towards making the world a safer and more equal place for girls. Today’s the perfect day to learn about them and the great work they do. Here’s a smattering to help whet your knowledge appetite.
Orchid Project, a non-profit based in the UK, NGO that is “catalyzing the global movement to end female genital cutting (FGC).” FGC is clearly a human rights violation, harming the lives of girls, women, and their communities. Orchid partners with pioneering grassroots organizations around the world, sharing knowledge and best practices in an effort to accelerate change. They also advocate among governments and global leaders to make sure that ending FGC is constantly and consistently a top priority. (Note: For more organizations that are working to end FGC, check out Pixel Project’s “16 for 16” Campaign,:16 Organisations, Charities and Grassroots Groups Working to Stop Female Genital Mutilation
Dawn Wilcox is building a public database of the women who have been murdered by their lovers, their neighbors, and their fathers, as well as strangers. “I’m trying to get the message [across] that women matter, and that these women’s lives mattered, and that this is not acceptable in the greatest country in the world,” Wilcox explains. Her database is available to the public through an online spreadsheet. The project provides the names, dates, ages, and residences, along with pictures of victims and their alleged killers and additional details that numbers alone simply cannot capture.
Equality now works to end sexual violence, harmful practices, and sex trafficking, as well as to achieve legal equality. They define their vision as, “A world in which women and men have equal rights under the law, and full enjoyment of their human rights” and their mission is to “Achieve legal and systemic change that addresses violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. At Equality Now, we believe in creating a just world where women and girls have the same rights as men and boys. We believe in tackling the most difficult issues, challenging ingrained cultural assumptions and calling out inequality wherever we see it. And we believe in the power of the law to create enduring equality for women and girls everywhere.”
This organization is dedicated to tackling the “prejudice against girls worldwide and expand their freedom and opportunities through education and leadership.” In 2004, the initiative was founded by a group of seventh-grade girls, young African women, and several community activists. Their activists range in age from twelve to twenty. Every year they participate in GCE-US creative advocacy events focusing on providing access to quality basic education for every child around the world.
Clitoraid is a non-profit that offers “free medical services for the physical restoration and rehabilitation of Female Genital Mutilation victims.” The fact that the surgery is done at no cost to the patient is vital as the majority of women victimized cannot afford the surgery, as the cost is equivalent to two years’ worth of salary. Clitoraid is currently focusing its work in Burkina Faso, West Africa where millions of victims of FGM reside by building a hospital that would allow Clitoraid to perform the restorations right there in West Africa.
And it’s not just non-profits that are fighting the good fight. All kinds of business from beauty to fashion to everything in between are committed to doing the same as well. Here are a few examples of the businesses doing just that.
Tatcha partners with Room to Read, a non-profit focused on girls’ education and children’s literacy in Asia and Africa. Their work with Room to Read began in 2014. Since then, Tatcha founder Victoria Tsai has started Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures. To date, the organization has funded over 3 million days of school because education has proven time and time again to be the ultimate way to improve the status of women.
First off, nearly all of Senteurs D’Orient’s employees are women. Secondly, one of its founding principles is the Senteurs Women Initiatives, “aimed at achieving several of its Sustainable Development Goals,” one of which is gender equality. This program works in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme to empower and educate women in Lebanon, giving women the knowledge and the tools to empower themselves.
Olori means queen. “Olori symbolizes every girl’s inherent worth and power; we believe every girl is born with an invisible crown, and should be treated accordingly.” They work in collaboration with women-owned businesses and local artisans in the heart of Africa, making handbags that make women feel strong, confident, and secure. Profits from every product they sell go toward education and tuition fees for underprivileged girls in Africa. With Bridge International Academy, they are currently serving more than 100,000 children across Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and India.
Ten percent of Round + Square’s profits go to Equality Now, the organization mentioned above that works “for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls around the world.” And to make things even better, they create their products using GOTS certified, sustainably farmed, 100% organic cotton.