NEW YORK, Dec. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Global children's organization Plan International is delighted at the United Nations' decision to recognize October 11th as the 'International Day of the Girl Child.'
In order to highlight the unique challenges and issues facing girls in many developing countries, Plan has led the call for this world day as part of its 'Because I am a Girl' initiative.
"By designating October 11th as Day of the Girl, we are all agreeing to put a special focus on the rights of girls throughout the world. We know that in many countries girls get left behind in all areas of life from school to work and many are prevented from fulfilling their true potential by severe discrimination and prejudice," said Plan International CEO Nigel Chapman.
Mr. Chapman said Plan applauded the Canadian government for sponsoring the proposal at the UN. The Canadian government became involved after Plan brought a delegation of girls and young women to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York earlier this year.
At the CSW, Lil Shira, a young woman from Cameroon, said: "Girls are being neglected, marginalized, and discriminated in families and society. Most of the girls are ignorant about their rights. The 'Day of the Girl' will make girls feel respected, recognized and their contributions valued in society."
2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee has been a long standing supporter of Plan's Day of the Girl campaign. Gbowee said: "I think the international day of the girl child would be a great day for the issues of the girl child to be brought to light for media institutions, for government institutions, and for educational institutions to take the time to think: Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues."
Research has shown that investing in girls and young women has a disproportionately beneficial effect in alleviating poverty - not only for girls but for their families, communities, and countries. Girls who spend an extra year at school will on average increase their lifetime income by 10 to 20%.
Deepali Sood, Director of Plan's Because I am a Girl initiative said: "Women's empowerment begins with girls' empowerment. Breaking the cycle of gender discrimination requires that we promote and protect the rights of girls. At the same time we also need to equip them with the skills and opportunities they need to transform their lives and those of their communities."
Research has shown that simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. In the poorest societies, a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger, and disease compared to her brothers. She will have fewer opportunities for an education and career. In many developing countries, 1 out of 7 girls marry before age 15.
Because I am a Girl is Plan's initiative to fight gender inequality, promote girls' rights, and lift millions of girls out of poverty.
Across the world, girls face double discrimination due to their gender and age, leaving them at the bottom of the social ladder. Research has shown that girls are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, be forced into an early marriage, be subject to violence or intimidation, be trafficked, sold or coerced into the sex trade, or become infected with HIV.
Plan is producing one girl report each year in the run up to 2015, the target year for the Millennium Development Goals. Each report provides tangible proof of the inequalities that still exist between boys and girls. Join our campaign and help us transform the lives of the world's poorest girls.
SOURCE Plan International