Today, we are celebrating the second International Day of the Girl Child. Indeed, on December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The inaugural day in 2012 focused on the issue of Child Marriage. This year’s theme focuses on Innovating for Girls’ Education, in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward and building on the momentum created by last year’s event.
The International Day of the Girl Child 2013 provides a platform to highlight ideas such as the following examples of ongoing work and achievements, as well as raise awareness of the importance of innovation in advancing girls’ education and promoting learning and empowerment:
- Improving public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes
- Engaging young people in monitoring and holding school systems accountable for ensuring the integrity of school facilities and functions and the safety and learning of girls
- Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls
- Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational education programmes
- Corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work
- Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles
- Deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas
- Using traditional and social media, advertising and commercial packaging to publicize data on gender disparities in education, the underlying causes, and actions that can be taken for change
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Please read this piece by Susan Ngongi, UNICEF Representative in Ghana, to learn more about the transformative role that girls could have in growing Ghana’s economy, if they receive the right investments.
Investments in girls yield the greatest national dividends:
Mothers transmit their social and economic status to their children more easily than fathers. Educated young women have smaller families and healthier children. They are less likely to marry young or die in childbirth, more likely to send their children to school, and better able to protect themselves and their children from malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, and sexual exploitation. An educated girl has better opportunities. She is more likely to get a job and earn a higher wage, and her nation’s economy is likely to benefit as a result. An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 per cent and an extra year of secondary school by 15 to 25 per cent. One percentage point increase in female education raises the average level of GDP by 0.3 percentage points. Well implemented, schools boost productivity and are a great equalizer of opportunity. This is the main avenue through which to develop the skills of girls. Ghana has achieved parity between boys and girls in primary school, but the gap begins to show in secondary school and by the tertiary level there are approximately twice as many boys as girls.
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The Global Partnership for Education’s new infographics below remind us how and why investing in girls’ education makes a difference, here are some facts:
> Some countries lose more than $1 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys,
> Women’s education has prevented more than 4 million child deaths in the past 40 years
> Investing in girls education could boost agricultural output in Africa by 25%