International Day of the Girl

girls_dayInternational Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the United Nations; it is also called the Day of the Girl and the International Day of the Girl. October 11, 2012, was the first Day of the Girl. The observation supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and unfree child marriage.

The International Day of the Girl Child initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide. The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular. Plan International representatives in Canada approached the Canadian federal government to seek to the coalition of supporters raised awareness of the initiative internationally.

girls_day_groupInternational Day of the Girl Child was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly. Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women, sponsored the resolution; a delegation of women and girls made presentations in support of the initiative at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting October 11, 2012 as the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. The resolution states that the Day of the Girl recognizes

The empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community […]

Each year’s Day of the Girl has a theme; the first was “ending child marriage”, the second, in 2013, was “innovating for girl’s education”, the third, in 2014, was “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.”  and the fourth, in 2015 was “The Power of Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030”.

“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”

-United Nations Resolution 66/170

In 2011, as the result of youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.

Day of the Girl-US is the United States branch of this global movement. We are an 100% youth-led movement fighting for gender justice and youth rights. Our work to dismantle the patriarchy and fight for social justice is rooted in girl-led activism across the country, using October 11th as a day of national action.

October 11 is not just a day; it’s a movement.

A worldwide revolution.

We want ourselves, and girls everywhere, to be seen as equals, in the eyes of others and in our own eyes.

Senior Girls Party 2012 Group Photo

Senior Girls Party 2012 Group Photo

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.

With this in mind, the theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl (11 October) is Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls. While we can applaud the ambition and potential of the SDGs for girls, and recognize how girls’ progress is good not only for girls, but also for families, communities and society at large, we must also take this opportunity to consider how existing gaps in data on girls and young women, lack of systematic analysis, and limited use of existing data significantly limit our ability to monitor and communicate the wellbeing and progress of half of humanity.

Much more can and needs to be done to harness the data required to ensure programs, policies and services effectively respond to the specific needs of girls. When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights – in times of peace and crisis – we empower them to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities. Only when investments in programs for girls on issues that particularly affect them – due to both their age and gender – are complemented with corresponding investments in data on girls, can we make real progress towards greater accountability in domains of critical importance to them.

Day of the Girl-US is an 100% youth-led movement fighting for gender justice and youth rights. Our work to dismantle patriarchy and fight for social justice is rooted in girl-led activism across the country, using October 11th as a day of national action. We are outraged by the neglect and devaluation of female-identifying youth. We are committed to examining these issues within an intersectional framework, the inclusion of girls’ voices in the movement for social justice, and grassroots activism – and thus we advocate, educate, and organize. Day of the Girl-US is the United States arm of the global Day of the Girl movement, beginning in 2011


  • Girls are the experts on issues that affect girls. The solutions to these issues must come from girls. Their voices need to be centralized and elevated in social justice conversations.
  • Girls from marginalized communities must be central in conversations about social justice issues involving those communities.
    Truly effective social change cannot come without girls’ leadership.
  • Girls’ issues are intersectional. We must intentionally include people who are different from ourselves in our social change work. Otherwise we will not be able to make a meaningful impact – in fact, we could even do damage to huge populations of girls.
  • Opinions presented on this website and on the related blog reflect the opinions of the author, not of the UN or any related organization. The Day of the Girl-US Action Team does not censor and we encourage multiple viewpoints.

Words We Use:

  • Girl. A female-identifying youth.
  • Patriarchy. “A social system in place in which masculinity is valued over femininity, and men are considered dominant to women.” People of all genders – not just girls – are negatively impacted by the patriarchy we live under.
  • Gender Roles. A set of norms that dictate what is and is not acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex or gender.
  • Privilege. A set of advantages experienced by a dominant group. Some privileges include white privilege, male privilege, or cisgender privilege, but there are many more.
  • Gender Binary. The two-gender labelling system in Western culture that forces people to either adhere to the social laws of masculinity or femininity. This social structure excludes and shames anyone who does not conform to traditional gender roles or identifies outside of the traditional two-gender system (read our brief on the gender binary here!)
  • Cisgender. When someone’s gender corresponds to the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Gender Justice. A movement to “create a world free from misogyny,” and end patriarchy, transphobia, and homophobia. At Day of the Girl-US, we focus on the issues impacting girls’, but we understand that all issues of gender justice are intrinsically tied.
  • Trans Inclusivity. Actively including transgender individuals in our feminist spaces. No matter how you identify – be it transgender, nonbinary, agender, or otherwise – you are safe and welcome here.
  • Rape Culture. “The normalization of sexual assault in society.”
  • Internalized Sexism. The involuntary internalization of sexist attitudes and beliefs. These beliefs often turn girls against each other, because a patriarchal society tells girls that rather than being allies they are competing to be the most desirable to boys and men. It can even turn a girl against herself.
  • Youth Rights. A movement to end discrimination against young people. This includes lowering the voting age, improving access to and quality of education, reforming the juvenile justice system (and other institutions that incarcerate youth, like certain foster care systems and immigration detention centers), and so much more.
  • Intersectionality. Intersectionality describes how oppressive institutions are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. It also describes the ways in which a variety of identities impact a particularly individual’s experience. This term was coined by women of color who were frustrated with the feminist movement for being centered around privileged, white women.

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