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Social Issues
As 14 Year Old Malala Yousafzai Fights For Her Life, Today Is The First-Ever International Day Of Th
October 11, 2012
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As we put together this story, we couldn't help but think of a lyric from Canadian songwriting legend Bruce Cockburn.

Chances are, you know it. From 'Lovers In A Dangerous Time', and the line "Got To Kick Out The Darkness 'Til It Bleeds Daylight."

That sentiment is the story of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot Tuesday by the Taliban.

And as Malala fights for her life in hospital, after having a bullet removed from her neck, her struggle is that much more poignant on this day.

Today, October 11, is the first-ever 'International Day of the Girl' - a day to fight for, recognize and celebrate girls' rights around the world.

Of course, that's exactly what Malala has done for the past three years - standing up for a girl's right to go to school and get an education.

She started speaking out when she was just 11, after the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan and started closing girls' schools.

Even in the face of brutal oppression and danger, she stood up for girls - not just in her country but around the world.

Sadly, Malala's struggle to get an education is all too common around the world. 250 million adolescent girls are living in poverty. Millions of them don't go to school.

Most girls in the world are less likely to go to school than boys. Girls are especially
falling behind when it comes to literacy and attending high school.

Girls throughout the world face higher rates of violence, poverty, discrimination. In Canada, girls have higher rates of depression, sexual harassment and dating violence.

Obviously, a lot of things need to change.

So, a couple of years ago, a campaign started to set aside a day to promote equality and opportunities for girls.

And this country played a big part in it. 'Plan Canada' led the campaign as part of its 'Because I am a Girl' initiative.

Here's a video.

The organization says it took thousands of young girls and boys in Canada and worldwide signing petitions and speaking out to politicians, the support of individual advocates and non-profit organizations, the unanimous, all-party support of the Canadian government, and support from the UN to make the 'International Day of the Girl' a reality.

The goal is to create a world where all girls, no matter where they live, have the chance to be educated, healthy, and safe, and become voices of change in their families, their communities and their nations.

The theme for this year is ending child marriage, which is a violation of girl's rights and impacts all aspects of a girl's life.

This video is called 'Girls Not Brides'. It makes the point that every year 10 million girls under the age of 18 are forcibly married in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

That's about 25,000 girls every day. You can find out more at

The UN says child marriage takes away a girl's childhood, virtually ends her education, increases her chances of being abused, and can result in early and unwanted pregnancies or HIV.

However, if governments stop child marriage, more girls can stay in school, which means they'll marry later, have children later, and will be more able to pull themselves and their communities out of poverty.

As Status of Women Canada puts it - equal opportunity and improving girls' lives has a ripple effect. What is good for them is good for all of us.

There are a number of campaigns for 'International Day Of The Girl'.

As we mentioned, there's Plan Canada's 'Because I Am A Girl'. Here's a PSA on that.

Over the next five years, it hopes to support 4 million girls to get the education, skills and support they need to change their lives and the world around them.

These photos are part of the campaign. 'Plan Canada' is asking Canadians to join girls around the world and raise their hand to make girls' education a top global priority.




You can join the 'Raise Your Hand for Girls' Education' movement on Facebook.

Upload a photo of yourself, your friends or your family with their hand raised to send a message to the UN.

Also today, several iconic monuments are being lit up in pink to symbolize the importance of girls' rights around the world. They include...

CN Tower - Toronto (from 7:15 pm ET 'til 6am tomorrow)
Parliament Hill - Ottawa
Niagara Falls - Niagara Falls, Canada (from 7:30pm ET to 8:45 p.m ET)
Empire State Building - New York City
London Eye - London, England
Sony Center (at Potsdamer Platz) - Berlin, Germany
Purana Qila (Old Fort) - Delhi, India
Humayun's Tomb - Delhi, India
Egyptian pyramids - Giza, Egypt

There's also a campaign called that features an amazing film called 'Girl Rising'.

The film tells the story of 10 girls from 10 countries, selected in consultation with 10 acclaimed women writers.

As the girls fight to get an education, the writers act as their voice which might otherwise not be heard.

It's due to be released in March of next year and includes a voice performance by Meryl Streep. Here's the trailer.

By the way, every time you share it through Facebook or Twitter, a $1 donation (up to $20,000) goes to the 10×10 Fund for Girls' Education.

There's also 'Girl Up', which is a campaign of the United Nations.

It gives American girls the opportunity to raise awareness and money for United Nations programs that help some of the world's hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.

Here's a video from their site called 'Two Minutes With Girls In Liberia'.

You can find out more about 'Girl Up' here.

And there's 'The Girl Effect'. Among other things, they have a series of short videos about girls around the world.

This one is about a girl from Ethiopia named Kidan, who wants to be a doctor but can't because she's already engaged.

You can find out more about 'The Girl Effect' here.

Related Stories:
UPDATE: 14 Year Old Pakistani Girl Who Was Shot by Taliban Airlifted to The U.K. For Specialized Care

The G(irls) 20 Summit Works To Empower Women And Girls

Survey: Canada Top G20 Country For Women; India, Saudi Arabia The Worst

Kathleen Turner On Being Angry & Women's Rights


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