The International Day of the Girl Child (Oct. 11) is a global observance declared by the United Nations to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
The Day of the Girl also focuses attention on the challenges girls face, like violence, education inequality and child marriage. For the millions of girls in countries prone to conflict and crisis, these challenges are especially formidable. When women and girls lack power in their homes and communities, every shock—whether armed conflict, drought, flood or COVID-19—inevitably affects them differently than others.
Oct. 11: The most challenging places to be a girl in 2021
On Oct. 11, the Day of the Girl, International Rescue Committee (IRC) experts will call attention to the five most challenging places to grow up a girl today. Our analysis is based on the lives of girls and the expertise of our staff working directly with girls around the world.
How the IRC supports girls to build a brighter future
At the IRC, we work to protect girls and empower them to change their own lives and communities. To do that, we’re working to help break down each of the barriers faced by women and girls in crisis hot spots:
- We know that education is essential to women’s futures, so we need to focus on keeping girls in school. We’re working to increase their access to learning throughout their lives.
- We know that violence against women and girls spikes during crises. We’re working with communities to prevent violence and supporting survivors with safe spaces, medical attention, counselling and legal assistance.
- We know that poor health undermines people’s potential, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are improving access to health centres, especially for women and girls in urgent need.
- We know that economic support in emergencies provides women with choices and eases tensions over money, reducing violence at home. That’s why we provide cash assistance, job skills training and small business support, and help establish women-led local savings and loan groups.
- And we know that, when empowered, women and girls can be forceful agents of positive change, but that they aren’t always heard and rarely recognized as leaders. We are working to change harmful gender norms to create more equal communities—and putting girls front and centre when planning our programmes.
In the spotlight: Girl Shine
Our Girl Shine programme, which supports adolescent girls as they navigate into adulthood, is a good example of the IRC’s approach. We work with girls to educate them about their rights, help them make healthy choices, protect them from violence, and teach them to be leaders. Through the programme, girls build important life skills, including decision-making and developing trust and friendships.
Girl Shine is based on the long experience and knowledge gathered through the IRC’s women’s protection and empowerment efforts and reflects the latest research findings on the experiences of adolescent girls in countries affected by crisis. The IRC’s Girl Shine programme materials have been shared widely and are available for other organisations to use so that as many girls as possible worldwide have the support and tools they need to build a brighter future.
Learn more about our work to protect and empower women and girls. Check back on Oct. 11, the Day of the Girl, for our update on the most challenging places to grow up a girl in 2021.