Today is the first International Day of the Girl, declared by the United Nations as a movement to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls rights everywhere.
In our corner of the world, advocacy has gone a long way for girls. Women are taking over, building a sparkling new matriarchy that spells The End Of Men. That’s the title, and thesis, from author Hanna Rosin, whose bestseller is on my book club’s reading list to digest later this year.
Her thesis is part myth, however fanciful the notion, for much of the world.
This morning, as I sat at an awards assembly at my kids all girls high school, I listened to the short address that saluted this new declaration and waited for the news blast that surely would have startled them awake from their morning slumps.
Two days ago, a 14 year old Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, was shot in the head by the Taliban who accused her of “promoting secularism”. This young woman, now fighting for her life in a military hospital, has been keeping a diary for the BBC about life under the Taliban despite regular death threats made to her family. International outrage following the shooting has given this new declared spotlight on girls a compelling resonance. Advocacy, in these terms, is courage beyond any Western recognition but surely this is the tenor of the United Nations declaration.
This morning the students never heard that news piece in their assembly. Perhaps they will go on and hear about it in their classrooms today or at home tonight surfing their laptops. Let’s call it a missed opportunity. When I mentioned to my daughters that today was the Day of the Girl, my eldest told me that everyday was the day of the girl at her school, encouraged as they are daily to go out and “change the world”. I watched one gifted student after another make her way to the stage to collect an award for achievement in one subject or another. This is the partial view of the Hanna Rosin camp and these girls undoubtedly will go on to shiny futures that will indeed contribute to the “new matriarchy.” Some- many I believe, will develop stunning advocacy skills for causes yet to be determined.
Let’s hope they consider brave Malala their sister, and remember that girl power needs global reach to have teeth.
Here she is, courage defined, in an interview with CNN:
For more on girls : Girl power lesson #1: book the funny lady
For more on education :