Happy International Day of the Girl - A message from our Global Director

11 October 2017

International Day of the Girl

Celebrated annually on the 11th of October, the International Day of the Girl aims to highlight issues concerning gender inequality facing young girls.

Reflecting on the current theme: Empower girls: Emergency response and resilience planning, we believe there is a great urgency to address many of the deep-rooted social norms that discriminate against girls. These harmful practices deny them the realisation of their fundamental human rights and an opportunity to realise their full potential.

What is FGM?

Globally, there are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 today, each with limitless individual potential. With an appropriate and targeted ‘girl agenda’, we can unleash this potential. We believe that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a critical harmful norm that needs addressing.

FGM is defined as:

All procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons [1].

FGM can cause severe pain, bleeding, problems urinating, cysts, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth, and even death. The psychological effects of FGM can include post-traumatic stress and depression [2]. Through The Girl Generation we provide a global platform for galvanising and amplifying the Africa-led movement to end FGM. We are united by our vision that FGM can – and must – end in this generation.

Meet Guewaratou; a true leader

We believe that no country can achieve its full potential, socially or economically, when half of its population is held back by extreme forms of discrimination such as FGM. Ending FGM is therefore critical and urgent. I am, however, encouraged that change is happening. There are many actors, men, women and even girls who are at the forefront of the end FGM campaign globally. One such girl is Guewaratou from Burkina Faso who I choose to celebrate today as we mark the Day of the Girl. 

Those who know Guewaratou describe her as a true leader and a girl who lifts everyone’s mood regardless of what is happening around her. Beyond that, she wants change, and one change she deeply cares about is ending FGM. Her resolve and awareness made her escape FGM. She has now become the face of change in her home country Burkina Faso. Guewaratou believes that if all girls are informed, supported and included in national and international policy agendas, norms such as FGM would be thing of the past.  Today, I salute Guewaratou - to me she represents the hope of many girls who are still discriminated and denied the opportunities to reach their dreams. Read her full story here.  

Ending FGM is a global concern

As we reflect and celebrate this amazing girl, let us all remember that ending FGM is not only a personal battle for many actors and campaigners, it is an issue of global concern, that requires comprehensive frameworks through which governments can address it. By inclusion of ending FGM as a global indicator in the Global Goals, there is a clear opportunity and obligation for national governments to develop comprehensive strategies for monitoring and addressing FGM. This indicator also offers the global movement to end FGM with a credible tool through which to hold funders, policymakers and governments accountable to ending FGM in one generation.

As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl, a critical tool for achieving complete empowerment of our girls would be for everyone to embrace the end FGM agenda as an emergency response and part of resilience planning. If we do this we will celebrate many more Guewaratous!

Sign your organisation up to The Girl Generation

[1] World Health Organisation. (2014) Female Genital Mutilation, Fact sheet N°241. [Online] www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/ [Accessed: 8th August 2015]

[2] World Health Organisation. (2015) Sexual and reproductive health: Health complications of FGM.

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