October 11 was the first ever International Day Of the Girl. The focus this year was on education for girls worldwide.
This very week a 14 year old girl from Pakistan fights for her life in the hospital after being shot in the head by the Taliban for demanding her right to an education.
61 million children do not attend school, just over 32 million of them are girls. Five million of the world’s out of school children are in Pakistan.
We take for granted many things over here in North America. Clean water we don’t have to walk miles to get. Food that is plentiful and only a short drive away. Medicine and vaccinations easily attainable. Education. Freedom.
Sure, we have a ways to go. Things aren’t perfect. Especially when it comes to women’s rights.
But if a 14 year old girl wants to go to school she can. In fact in most places it’s the law that she does. Because somewhere along the line we figured out that an educated girl becomes an educated woman and that’s good for everyone.
The Pakistani Government has pledged to find the men behind the shooting of Malala. That’s not enough. The government needs to stand strong and make sure that what Malala was fighting for comes to realization – the ability and opportunity for all girls to get an education. Telling the Taliban to GTFO with some BFGs would be a good idea as well so that the schools will be safe and the students can study without fear of attack. In fact let’s keep religion of any kind out of all schools and governments worldwide.
The graphic above illustrates the many obstacles that girls have to getting an education. Two of the largest obstacles are poverty and distance. However an estimated 10 million girls are not at school because they have become child brides, some as young as 6 years old. 15 million boys and girls under age 15 do not attend school because they are child laborers – many with little to no pay. Child brides, child labor and child soldiers are issues tied closely with this fight for a girl’s right to education.
Malala has become a symbol to girls in Pakistan and all over the world that they CAN change the world. They can demand their rights and they know now that the greatest thing the Taliban and other religious extremists fear is a woman with knowledge. I hope that she recovers and can see the impact she has made. The world is watching.
Here in North America we need to keep up the fight for our daughters and ourselves. Our fight is far from over – equal pay, women’s reproductive health, sexism, rape culture and so much more demand our attention. While Malala fights for an education we will fight for a better tomorrow for our daughters and together we can change the world. Not just because I am a girl, but because I am a human being. And women’s rights are human rights.
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All pictures used with credit to Because I Am A Girl Facebook Archives