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The Power of Girls and their Potential

13th October 2022

‘Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book’.
Malala Yousafzai


HOM: Thinking Interdependently

On Friday 30th September, 35 young Hazara women and girls were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan. Their crime…seeking an education. Following the attack there were protests in which further women and girls were shot. Yet another example of extremists being afraid of the potential power of girls with books and an education. It can be so easy to take for granted our education rather than see it as an enormous privilege, conferring on us the power to determine our own lives and also a responsibility to use our power for the benefit of others.

And that power is still unequally distributed. Research has shown that simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. In the poorest societies a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger and disease compared to her brothers. And she will have far fewer opportunities for an education and career. It is in order to highlight these issues that the UN General Assembly voted to declare 11th October every year International Day of the Girl Child.

‘The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.’

Of course Malala Yousafzai nearly paid with her life in pursuit of her education but now uses the power of that education to campaign for the empowerment of girls around the world. A ‘girl with a book’ really is a force to be reckoned with and for which we can be thankful.

Christine Crossley