The same week that Malala Yousafzai, 17, won the Nobel Peace Prize, girls in various countries were speaking out about issues including sex trafficking and violence against women.
In the United States, rallies were held in several U.S. cities to observe Day of the Girl, a United Nations event.
“The goal was to give a platform for girls all over the country to exercise their leadership skills and get involved in the community,” said Ginger Mayo, a senior at the Newman School in Boston and a member of the US Day of the Girl Action Team. The team, which raised money and organized the rallies, is composed of young women ages 16-21.
Among the related events was an Atlanta workshop to help girls respond to social issues that concern them.
“There is a dearth of political education among girls on how to take action,” said Becky Rafter, executive director of Georgia WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), which sponsored the workshop along with CARE.
“We realized how bad the problem really is,” she said.
The workshop was part of a program organized by CARE and the National Center for Civil & Human Rights to promote leadership among girls.
WAND elicited subjects of concern among the girls who attended and presented a long list of specific methods of nonviolent action — in keeping with the organization’s focus on nonviolence.
In Tallahassee, Fla., a rally was held in response to the sex assault crisis on the nation’s campuses, Mayo said. A rally in El Paso, Texas, sought to raise awareness of murders of women and girls along the borderlands.
A gathering in Urbana, Ill., drew about 150 people to celebrate women in history and to push for greater numbers of women in the sciences, Mayo said. Encouraging girls in STEM “is a big component of our message,” she said.
A rally in Boston is scheduled for Oct. 18 at Copley Square to highlight the problem of sex trafficking.
A number of organizations have endorsed Day of the Girl, including Cool Girls Inc., the Women and Girls Foundation and the Texas Girls Collaborative Project.
The international observance was started two years ago by the UN, which declared Oct. 11 the International Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness about gender inequality.