International Day of the Girl is a special day at CCFC
Learn more about how we’re helping create a brighter future for girls around the world
By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO
Today is International Day of the Girl. It’s a day designated by the United Nations to spotlight challenges faced by girls around the world. It’s a day to recognize girls’ human rights. It’s a day to celebrate girl power. It’s a day to dream big. It’s a day to give hope to half of humanity.
I’m a life-long human-rights advocate. I know one day is not enough to change the world, but it’s a start.
International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to think about the future we want for all girls — not just our daughters but young women half a world away who are thwarted by their gender, by poverty, by early and forced marriages and even by forced labour. So many girls throughout the world are still denied access to a classroom or the potential for a skilled job. This can change.
The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl is “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce.” Today, the UN is kicking off a year-long program to help girls build a strong future through education and training for in-demand jobs fuelled by innovation and automation. As a society, we too must use innovation to help girls succeed.
I’m thrilled to join with partners, parents, teachers and healthcare professionals help make our vision of positive lasting change for girls a reality. It really will take a village — a global village — to make a difference.
At Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), we’re building classrooms, providing school supplies, freeing children from child labour and defending their rights — especially girls’ rights — to education, so they can advocate for themselves and their peers. These children and youth are leading change in their communities. We’re involved in ground-breaking programs that help create a skilled GirlForce:
- In India, we have the Internet Saathi project and join with Tata Trusts and Google India to enhance digital literacy and train more than 1,000 women to become “digital agents of change.”
- We empower girls to make change. In fact, we recently had a former sponsored child speak to the world, as a representative at this year’s End Violence Solutions Summit in Sweden.
While breakthrough programs and additional classrooms are essential, they’re only part of the solution. True change will only be realized if we help break down barriers for girls. Gender equality must become global.
At CCFC, we’re dedicated to improving opportunities for girls in communities across the 12 countries where we work. To effectively address poverty and social inequality, we must tackle the gender gap. It’s important to have female leaders making key decisions that impact women and children, and it’s essential to lead by example. I’m proud to say half of our country directors are female, and we’re committed to ensuring a minimum of 50 percent of our senior management positions around the world will be female. By showing what’s possible, we’re helping marginalized girls believe that their dreams can become reality.
While change is difficult, it’s possible. I recently experienced the life-altering difference we can make – and are making — for young girls. I sponsor 12-year-old Addis (pictured) from Ethiopia, and I had the opportunity to meet her this summer. Many children in her community don’t have a local school, leaving them prone to abuse, harassment and worse. But, through sponsorship, Addis attended preschool and was given the foundation to spur her development. She told me with great certainty she’s going to be a doctor when she grows up. I have every hope she will make her dreams come true.
This International Day of the Girl think about the difference you can make. Use this day to learn more. Use this day to help “GirlForce” become a movement. Use this day to dream big for those who feel they cannot. Use this day to spark a lifetime of change in the world. By working together, we can give every girl a voice and ensure that every voice is heard.
About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:
Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For nearly 60 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.