Dublin to get 18-year-old female mayor, for ‘Day of the Girl’

The International Day of the Girl aims to change things now – and create a better future

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban  for advocating education for girls, speaks about her fight for girls’ education on the International Day of the Girl in   2013, at the World Bank in Washington. Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating education for girls, speaks about her fight for girls’ education on the International Day of the Girl in 2013, at the World Bank in Washington. Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

 

There are 1.1 billion girls in the world and four years ago the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11th the International Day of the Girl Child to “recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world”.

Girls face double discrimination because of their age and gender. In many parts of the world they can face barriers to education. Some 62 million girls, who should be in school today, are not. This despite the fact that for every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by between 15 per cent and 25 per cent. Women invest more of their income in their families than men do, so the benefits will also reach further.

A woman who is educated usually marries later and has fewer, healthier children. Make life better for girls and you make life better for everyone, says the UN.

Girls born at the turn of the millennium have now reached adolescence, and the generation of girls born this year will be adolescents in 2030. The UN is hopeful that International Day of the Girl will yield positive results. “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.”

This year the UN and global children’s charity Plan International are supporting girls to pull off a “global takeover”. On October 11th, girls across the world will step into the shoes of political, social and economic leaders, so expect a girl in the president of Nepal’s seat and a girl taking over Canada’s ministry for finance.

In Ireland, Étáin Sweeney Keogh, an 18-year-old from Fivemilebourne, Leitrim, will be “taking over” the lord mayor of Dublin’s office for Plan International Ireland. She will also be shadowing Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee in the Seanad, opening Pat Kenny’s radio show on Newstalk and if she isn’t busy enough, may even make it into the Taoiseach’s office.

The challenges girls face differ across the world, but by ensuring data on girls is gathered and recorded, it is hoped that this year’s International Day of the Girl will support future progress by recording present facts.

Girls in numbers

70% of the world’s poor are girls and women

62m Number of girls who should be in school but are not.

830 girls and young women die during pregnancy and childbirth every day

55% of the 20.9m victims of forced labour are girls and women

39,000 girls are married before they turn 18

Source: Plan International

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