Today, October 11th, marks the International Day of the Girl. In 2011, the United Nations voted to set aside this day in order to properly recognize and honor girls, and work to improve their lives. The mission of the International Day of the Girl 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.” The day is meant to inspire girls globally and spread awareness for their struggle toward gender and economic equality in many parts of the world through activism and awareness.
According to the International Business Times, 31 million school-aged girls do not have the opportunity to attend elementary school, 35% of women globally have encountered physical and sexual violence, and only 4% of companies in the United States have women as chief executive officers. It is absolutely imperative to stand up and start a conversation about the opportunities we give our girls and create a society in which they can thrive. Such a society needs to be full of female role models and leaders in all industries, not just those which have been labeled as appropriate for women. Too often, young girls are steered away from what have traditionally been viewed as more masculine subjects in school, leading them to choose careers in more traditionally female roles such as nursing and teaching. “In elementary school and middle school, I wanted to be a meteorologist,” said Chanell Hasty, Founder and President of FRJ. “I was discouraged from doing this by my male teachers, and was told that I was a girl, so I should focus on social studies and language arts focused studies.” But, perhaps serendipitously, Chanell listened to their advice and went on to found this organization working to empower orphaned and vulnerable children, a large portion of which consists of girls and young women But, it is not the case for everyone that their ambitions are so rudely squandered. For instance, my mother graduated in 1985 with degrees in marketing and computer science at a time when there were barely any women in the technology industry. She joined AT&T fresh out of college, and moved on to manage many projects in the information technology section of United Parcel Services (UPS), with whom she has spent the past 25 years. Now, years later, she sits in a position where she can hire young women in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field, and has made a push to recruit more young female computer engineers and scientists in her company’s internship program.
“By encouraging the media to depict more examples of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields -- and by working to expand access to STEM classes and careers, particularly computer science -- we are striving to address inequalities in education,” President Barak Obama declared in a proclamation on the White House’s website last week. Through innovative vocational programing, we at FRJ are striving to address inequalities in education for vulnerable girls in the Gambia … just like President Obama’s vision as well as my mother’s (something like that). And we are not alone! Our partner organizations, like Women Deliver and The Girl’s Agenda, are also pursuing educational and gender equality. Other amazing organizations such as United Nations Women, Girl Rising, and Girls Not Brides, have also made remarkable strides in this endeavor. By supporting these organizations, you are supporting the millions of girls facing grave inequalities. So, please visit their websites to find out how you can support girls worldwide on this International Day of the Girl.
Together, we can strive towards addressing inequalities for girls and women – particularly, within education.
-By Margaret Strauss, FRJ Apprentice
 Glum, Julia. “International Day Of The Girl 2016: Quotes And Facts To Celebrate, Empower Young Women”. International Business Times, 11 October 2016.
 “Presidential Proclamation -- International Day of the Girl, 2016.” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 7 October 2016.