In 1998, I lived in a children’s home with Durga in Kathmandu, Nepal. I was 25 years old, a newlywed, and on a 6-month adventure with my husband volunteering overseas. She was a teenager who had been rescued from a rock quarry, where she had made a living as a rock-chipper to support her younger brother. I was optimistic about my abilities to save children at risk because I had been blessed with so much. She was optimistic she would be able to get a job because she had been given the opportunity for an education. We were both orphans. We both grew up as girl children. And yet, simply due to the part of the world in which we were each born, we were on radically different trajectories in life.
The United Nations has proclaimed today to be the International Day of the Girl Child. What is so special about girls?
- Girls are 3 times more likely to be malnourished than boys.
- Each year roughly 2 million girls between the ages of 5-7 are trafficked in human slavery.
- Only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled secondary school.
- Each year, more than 10 million girls are forced to marry as children.
- In many countries women are more likely to be raped than taught to read.
- One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
- Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.
- When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40% for a man.
Throughout the day today, I will be tweeting about the issues that girls face. I will be linking to articles that discuss the importance of drawing awareness to their stories. I will be highlighting organizations that care for the girl child. Please feel free to tweet about the subject yourselves, follow me on @erynfaye and make comments below. As a woman, as the mother of a daughter and as a friend of Durga, I believe that taking a moment to look at the issues surrounding #dayofthegirl is important.