How can we "genuinely and effectively help girls in our communities and around the world," not just today on International Day of the Girl, but every day?
Reflecting on her trip to the Philippines, blogger Jennifer James explains.
Each year on October 11, the world celebrates International Day of the Girl, which the United Nations established four years ago to bring awareness to the inequality that girls around the world face every day. The theme this year is girls and the Sustainable Development Goals, which the UN recently passed last month and are intended to fight, among other things, inequality and global poverty, two issues that disproportionately impact girls.
When I traveled to the Philippines last year with World Vision to see their one-year response to Typhoon Haiyan, I saw several effective community programs that improve the lives of girls who live in poverty. I saw girls at a local school who were afforded a brand-new building after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed portions of it. I saw the girls laughing and playing during their recess time and simply being happy children.
The important thing I realized is that they were getting an education. Global statistics show that the poorest girls have the hardest time accessing educational opportunities and it becomes even harder the older they become.
I also witnessed girls at a community program for World Vision sponsored children in San Vicente Community Center in Dulag, Philippines where girls were not afraid to challenge themselves with games that would typically be relegated to boys. They carefully read instructions to put together model cars and worked diligently to finish the project. I was impressed by how determined and undeterred the girls were to participate in creating the model cars alongside the boys. It is gender-inclusive programs like this that give girls the confidence to dream big for the future.
Additionally, I saw World Vision sponsored children at the same community center write Christmas letters to their sponsors in the United States. The child sponsorship program is more powerful than I’d originally thought before seeing it with my own eyes. The program helps the entire community, not individual children and families, including girls where in some places girls are simply forgotten.
And I saw the most vulnerable girls and their families receive brand-new housing after their previous homes had been utterly destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. Through community-based programs, World Vision helps families get back on their feet after natural disasters.
International Day of the Girl is a reminder for all of us to think critically about the ways in which we can genuinely and effectively help girls in our communities and around the world, not just on one single day, but every day of the year. Sponsoring a child is a positive way to help girls in communities around the world have access to clean water and nutritional programs as well as to attain an education.