October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child, a day dedicated to celebrating the voices and power of girls, championing their rights worldwide, and reflecting on the challenges they continue to face because of their gender.
Too many girls have limited or no access to education, limiting their potential to participate fully in their society. They are at startling risk of violence online, in the classroom, home and community. One in every 20 girls worldwide aged 15-19 – around 13 million – has experienced rape in their lifetimes. Many of the challenges faced by girls have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated gender inequalities.
Bangladesh, like the rest of the world, has also experienced this negative trend despite tremendous improvements in education, nutrition, and child and maternal mortality.
The International Day of the Girl Child is an opportunity to recommit to addressing these inequalities. For we cannot succeed when half of the world’s population is held back. We applaud the Bangladesh Government’s commitment to gender equality. We also commend civil society, non-government organisations and communities for their great work at the grassroots to advance gender equality and girls’ rights.
Across Bangladesh and around the world, girls are making an impact and creating positive change in their communities and far beyond. They are leading the way as students, entrepreneurs, volunteers and activists, and proving that you are never too young to shape the future and improve the lives of others.
Today several such girls from across Bangladesh had the opportunity to serve as ambassadors and high commissioners for a day in a virtual event jointly organized by the Australian High Commission, High Commission of Canada, Embassy of France, Embassy of Germany, Embassy of the Netherlands, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Switzerland, Embassy of the United States of America, and UNICEF Bangladesh.
These adolescent girl ambassadors asserted their power as change-makers and demanded to live free from gender-based violence and harmful practices; to exercise the freedom to choose their own futures; to lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change; and to be empowered to live up to their full potential.
This year’s theme for International Day of the Girl Child, My Voice Our Equal Future, reminds us that everyone benefits when girls have the chance to excel. Let the girls excel!