Resolution 66/170: The Day the Girl Child Attained a Voice

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170. In so doing, the UN declared to the whole world that every October 11th is International Day of the Girl Child. It is a day that takes into account the challenges faced and hopes held by every girl child around the world, especially those who have been held down by social, cultural, and too often violent repression. This day is an annual celebration and admonition of our shared responsibility to galvanize global enthusiasm and action for improving the lives of girls everywhere. This core mission demands not only helping girls reach their maximum potential, but elevating them to leadership positions that will empower them to make effective and lasting changes for themselves and girls everywhere.

Themes Since 2012

International Day of the Girl Child is designed to draw attention to the unique plight experienced by girls across the globe and the basic human rights that must be accorded to them in order to see an end to discrimination and violence. In 2012, the theme for International Day of the Girl Child was “Ending Child Marriage,” a scourge which all too often permits girls to be sold into sexual slavery and legitimizes the dehumanization and deprivation inflicted upon girls as young as nine-years-old. In 2013, the theme focused on “Innovation for Girls’ Education,” which recognized the central importance in improving the daily lives and future prospects of girls by providing access to universal education in a safe environment. This year, on October 11, 2014, the third International Day of the Girl Child will be celebrated under the theme “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence,” which draws attention to the fact that too many girls around the world cannot pursue their basic human rights to education, suffrage, and bodily integrity without ending the physical violence that keeps them shut away from the world.

Why the Need for an International Day of the Girl Child

Although tragedies like poverty, civil strife, and income equality can affect boy children, the effects on girl children are invariably more acute and dangerous. For example, impoverished families often sell their girl children as “brides” because they are deemed to contribute less to the family than a boy child. Civil strife, which can lead to the kidnap of boys to be used as child soldiers, more often causes the perpetual sexual enslavement of hundreds of girls at time, as seen by the abduction of over 200 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. Income inequality also threatens to be a permanent disadvantage to girls who, unlike boys, are often forbidden to attend school or hold jobs unless they risk physical violence or other forms of societal retribution.

Possible Steps to End the Cycle of Violence

Private and public institutions, civil societies, the United Nations system and governments have been called upon to reaffirm their commitment towards ending the blight of abuse and violence on girls, especially adolescent girls, through methods for empowerment. This can be done by:

  • A direct investment in adolescent girls, equipping each of them with life options, confidence, and skills through economic, social, and health support systems, including vocational and technical training and education as well as through schools and family.
  • Ensuring there is technology, services, and infrastructure in place that girls can access to effectively meet their mobility, connectivity, and safety needs.
  • Facilitation and encouragement of adolescent girls to be able to engage in political, economic, and civic life.
  • Continual efforts in education and raising social awareness that violence against women and adolescent girls is immoral, unacceptable, and disadvantages a society as a whole. This requires taking the realities of abuse out of the private, often male-dominated home and into the light of public scrutiny.
  • Creating and maintaining protocols in documenting evidence and collecting data in order to analyse metrics for success and improvement in the areas of violence against adolescent girls as well as their empowerment.