Today is International Day of the Girl.
Chances are the girls in your life – your daughters, nieces, friend’s children or students – are spending today at school, learning, playing and exploring.
When they go to bed tonight, they can dream about the future knowing that it’s a boundless sea of possibilities.
Still, not every girl is so lucky.
Today, more than 40,000 girls will become child brides. To break that down – that’s 28 girls every minute.
Today, 20,000 girls will give birth. Of these, 5500 will be aged under 14 and 200 will die from complications.
Today, every 10 minutes an adolescent girl will die as a result of violence.
Today, 28 million girls will be living with mutilated genitals.
Today, 65 million girls won’t go to school. In countries like Somalia, Niger and Liberia an overwhelming proportion of the poorest girls have never even been.
And it’s that last statistic that I’ll ask you to think about – because it’s the one that, once changed, can make the biggest impact on girls’ lives.
According to girls education charity Room to Read, many world problems can be addressed through education.
“Knowing how to read makes people safer, healthier and more self-sufficient — yet nearly 800 million people are illiterate and two-thirds are women and girls,” a spokesperson said.
Listen: This is what you can do for this little girl in your life. (Post continues.)
Research shows that if all women and girls had a primary education, there would be far fewer child deaths, fewer complications from malnutrition in children, and maternal deaths would be reduced by around two-thirds.
This is because girls and young women who are educated have greater awareness of their rights and confidence greater confidence to make decisions that affect their lives. They are more likely to delay marriage and pregnancy. They have fewer children and raise healthier children.
Education empowers girls and women to overcome discrimination.
Room to Read is asking Australians to help support them to give millions of girls the education they so desperately need.
By working with local governments, schools, communities and families the charity places an emphasis on literacy, explaining why it is so important, so girls feel supported and encouraged to read at school and at home.
Room to Read also provides teaching materials and teacher support and training, so they are best placed to help their students. Finally, they work with governments, showcasing the success of their methods so they can be adopted more widely within the countries they work in.
You can donate to Room to Read or find out more at their website.