Ten years from now, we predict thousands upon thousands of girls will create a sensation and cause a ruckus on October 11, 2022. It will be the norm for girls to speak about their dreams and demand equality for girls everywhere in the world.
Ten months from now, we predict this movement will be born. October 11, 2012 will be the first International Day of the Girl.
Ten months ago, a group of School Girls Unite high school and college students in the DC area decided to mobilize support in America for a campaign initiated by Canadian girls. The goal: establish a United Nations International Day of the Girl.
Five months ago, these young architects were already building a movement. One high school club produced videos introducing why a Day for girls is so needed. More than 50 girls weighed in on the logo and design for a website to promote the campaign. Hours were devoted to strengthening every sentence in a letter to the White House. Middle school girls held a summit with the County Council Chair to begin the process of getting a local Day of the Girl proclamation. Requests asking organizations to support the Day resulted in 75 endorsements. “Child Marriage: Tragic Tradition,” written by one of our college age leaders, became the model for nine more action-oriented girls’ issues posted on the website.
Our campaign really got traction when four School Girls leaders were back here at the end of another year of college. Their commitment dates back to when they were seventh graders and became relentless advocates for girls in Africa to go to school. These founding members became paid interns and took the reins of the campaign. They interviewed and helped choose our talented social media coordinator. They strategized and coached the younger School Girls, presented workshops at schools, explored collaboration with numerous nonprofits, and led a critical conference call with the White House.
During the summer, the round-the-clock commitment of these hardworking interns made all the difference in gaining momentum. Their strategic sense and innovative thinking were irreplaceable. When we describe this as a youth-driven campaign, girls have to be in the driver’s seat. Adults, including myself, try to stay in the backseat and limit their time behind the steering wheel. Our feisty and agile nonprofit, with this engine of interns and passionate younger School Girls Unite members, accomplished extraordinary results in a matter of months. We are proud to have been able to support the intense work of other non-governmental organizations, especially those in Canada that initiated this effort.
Now it is time to celebrate! On December 19, the United Nations General Assembly, with the support of the U.S., gave final approval to establish the International Day of the Girl Child. School Girls Unite and other girl-led organizations from New Moon Girls to Girls For A Change are already focusing on October 11, 2012–the historic first girls’ rights celebration. In the words of Shayna G., 17: “This Day can propel the movement to revive the push for equality.”