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Today is the first ever International Day of the Girl. So, get out a pen and mark it in your calendar for next year already! My colleague Cassandra Clifford wrote a piece earlier today looking at the theme of this year’s Day of the Girl, child marriage. It’s just one of many issues activist, advocacy and development organizations are looking to deal with when considering how to make the future as bright as possible for as many girls as possible.
That today is a day celebrating girls and highlighting challenges faced by them seems doubly resonant if you’ve been following the shocking and frankly appalling news story on Malala Yousafzai. Ms Yousafzai was targeted by militants linked to the Taliban after she publicized her thoughts on an edict forbidding girls’ education in Pakistan’s Swat valley. You can read extracts (via The Independent) here. She was shot in the head as she came home from school, and was then airlifted to a hospital in Rawalpindi following the removal of the bullet from her shoulder, where it had lodged.
In their justificatory statement, the spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed,
“If anyone thinks . . . that Malala is targeted because of education, that’s absolutely wrong, and a propaganda of (the) Media,” the statement said. “Malala is targeted because of her pioneer role in preaching secularism and so called enlightened moderation. And whom so ever will commit so in future too will be targeted again by TTP.”
(reproduced in an article in the New York Times)
Al Jazeera English have a 25-minute video feature examining the rule of law in Pakistan, asking, “Who in Pakistan should have protected Malala?” She’s a 14-year-old girl. So the answer should be, “everybody.”
And why the UN International Day of the Girl? As the GirlUp website states, “Girls are bright, talented and full of potential. But too many girls growing up in developing countries never get the chance to live their dreams because they can’t go to school, see a doctor or stay safe from harm.”
Can one day really make a difference? The calendar is already crowded with celebratory and memorial days… International Mountain Day (Dec 11), World Television Day (Nov 21), or World No-Tobacco Day (May 31)… and now there’s just one more to add to the list. ‘It sounds great on paper but it doesn’t actually *mean* that much’ – is that a charge that will be leveled at International Day of the Girl? ‘Never say never’ holds true, but since IDG2012 also marks the launch of CATAPULT hopefully that will not be the case.
Catapult is the first online funding platform dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women worldwide. It does this by acting as a digital hub driving donations to organizations working to improve the lives of girls and women. As funding is funneled to specific projects rather than the whole of an organization (unless the organization is devoted to a single issue if I have understood correctly!), this means you can really donate to causes that you are passionate about, be it reproductive health, education, trafficking or HIV/AIDS. Please take a moment to visit the site, read about the teams vying for funding, and find out how a little can go a long way.
In case you were wondering, the title of this post is a quote taken from ‘The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman’.
This post was originally published here by the Foreign Policy Association.