Whenever I’m asked to express my sentiments regarding the International Day of the Girl, I am left in a state of indecisiveness. My views are couched in an expression of an inherent dichotomy. The day symbolizes a space to appreciate liberation and reassertion of an identity (of being a girl) otherwise discriminated against. It appears to me as if I’ll be heard today; my dreams which, on other accounts are termed unrealistic shall qualify to be viewed on this occasion, as inspirational and a path-breaking ideology. Celebrating the voice of a ‘she’ internationally reinforces the idea of how significant girls can be the world over. Why then, should there even be a special day to commemorate the voice of a girl? Is it because she continues to struggle, protest, face subjugation and routine unjust treatment for the rest three sixty four days of the year? How crucial is this celebration, in correlation to the hard- hitting realities of young girls across the globe? Initially, I struggled to comprehend the purpose of the day itself.
But then my initial sense of pessimism recedes in the background. It is hard to deny the roots of such a celebration that germinates as a consequence of an unbroken chain of successful struggle, a network of millions of girls and their fragmented stories which, when joined together, becomes a remarkable narration– of love, hope and persistent courage. Inspirational young girls have time and again, resisted against oppression, unjust treatment and violence inflicted upon them. Girls face sex-selection, incidents of sex trafficking, child marriage, school drop- out, child sexual abuse and incest in our local and global communities.
What is encouraging is the realization that just like oppression against girls has been an endemic phenomenon transcending national boundaries; youth activism advocating for equal rights and opportunities of girls is now center stage amidst a global audience. For me – in the process of fighting for the constitutional right to life that every girl child deserves in India, through Campaign Rebirth, and in contributing to the International Day of the Girl Speak Out at the United Nations, I have realized that the world does not need to be a cruel place. It can be a place of transformation and change. By focusing on the two dimensions of female foeticide and rights of abandoned girls currently residing in shelter homes of New Delhi, India, I am convinced that the impetus to change will come from us – the girls.
I draw my sense of inspiration from the small, simple things in life – from young girls becoming young activists in support of global education; standing up to represent her choice of not getting married or deciding upon her own professional pursuits; to something as seemingly insignificant as girls learning to ride a bicycle. I get inspired, not only by girls who have experienced oppression, but others who have pushed themselves out of their comfort zones to become sensitive to discrimination and in turn, sown their own seeds of conviction, change and persistence.
I believe our societies have much to contribute in terms of encouraging girls to become change makers – to challenge centuries of discrimination around the globe.
Girls, I strongly feel, must be celebrated each day, for their creativity, vibrancy and enthusiasm. Further still – every act of standing up for equality of opportunities is applause-worthy. It is that fact, that stands out to me as the key message of this day – the International Day of the Girl.
Every initiative matters. Every girl matters.
By: Arpita, Founder/ President Campaign Rebirth, Sociology Student and Coordinator of Women’s Development Cell, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi, India.
You can watch Arpita’s video for the International Day of the Girl Summit: Here!