For all that we talk about the rights and needs of women, we often forget that women come from somewhere. Women, as Simone de Beauvoir infamously put it, aren’t born but are made. They are often (though not always) made from children called “girls.”
And from the beginning, no matter where you’re from, girls (like boys) are taught at an early age what exactly “girl” means.
“Girl” can be empowering: Mighty Girl, Girls Rule, Girls Run the World.
This year we focus on adolescent girls: the ones who are in that hybridized danger zone between childhood and adulthood. The ones who are exploring sexual relationships for the first time, are considered old enough to be married with children, are being told they need to quit school, are being told they need to dream (but not too big).
Adolescence is a time of identity formation and self-discovery. All too often, girls in this age bracket have their journeys constrained by negative feedback and violence. That goes for all of us, everywhere, around the world.
Events are being held globally to mark this day and challenge all seven billion of us to end the cycle of violence that perpetuates negative outcomes for adolescent girls. Violence perpetrated against girls who go to school, who refuse to marry, who stand up to their rapists, who speak out.
If you aren’t quite ready to participate this year, look into what you can do for next year.
My optimistic side hates me for writing the following, but it’s true: One day in 2014 isn’t sufficient to eradicate violence against girls and women in 2015. There will still be a need for empowered, activist female voices next year, and the more we can throw ourselves into making a change, the more likely it is that someday we won’t need an International Day of the Girl Child anymore.