The International Day of the Girl Child is a United Nations (UN) initiative which was inaugurated to promote and protect the rights of girls around the world. This year’s theme is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls” and Africa joins the world to celebrate a day which highlights the importance of empowering and nurturing girls to promote global development.
There are more than 1.1 billion girls worldwide with great potential and this day serves as a reminder on the need to highlight and advance rights and opportunities for girls across the world.
Girls still face various challenges, which impede on their potential to succeed, from abuse, physical and sexual violence, exploitation, child marriage, various forms of discrimination and inequality.
In celebration of the day we have chosen 10 profound quotes from various inspirational women who are using their voices and leadership to advocate for the rights of girls, raising awareness about the various practices that hinder girls from reaching their full potential.
1. “Our men think earning money and ordering around others is where power lies. They don’t think power is in the hands of the woman who takes care of everyone all day long, and gives birth to their children”. Malala Yousafzai, activist and Nobel Prize laureate.
2. “Achieving gender equality is about disrupting the status quo – not negotiating it”. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.
3. “Marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are”. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists.
4. “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important”. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists.
5. “All girls know that they can be anything now. That transformation is to me one of the most satisfying things”. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.
6. “To girls and women everywhere, I issue a simple invitation. My sisters, my daughters, my friends; find your voice”. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.
7. “I realized that the barrier to girls’ education isn’t just resources. It’s also about attitudes and beliefs – the belief that girls simply aren’t worthy of an education; that women should have no role outside the home; that their bodies aren’t their own, their minds don’t really matter, and their voices simply shouldn’t be heard”. First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama
8. “[Girls] know that education is their only path to self-sufficiency. It is their only chance to shape their own fate rather than having the limits of their lives dictated to them by others”. First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
9. “Everyone wins when children – and especially girls – have access to education. An educated girl is likely to increase her personal earning potential and prepare herself for a productive and fulfilling life, as well as reduce poverty in the whole community. Investing in girls’ education also helps delay early marriage and parenthood. Our booming economies in Africa need more female engineers, teachers and doctors to prosper and sustain growth”. Angelique Kidjo, activist, singer and songwriter.
10. “We should be respectful but we must also have the courage to stop harmful practices that impoverish girls, women and their communities”. Graca Machel, women and children’s rights activist.