Whose Day Is It, Anyway?
Last Thursday, October 11 was the inaugural International Day of the Girl. Several Canadian girl-centred organizations coordinated celebratory events and began the important work of facilitating dialogues around girls’ rights and developing solutions to the challenges girls face due to their gender and age.
Day of the Girl was established after a successful advocacy campaign led by Plan Canada’s Because I am a girl initiative, and supported by numerous organizations worldwide including Girl Guides of Canada.
The day has been established and we’ve had our inaugural celebration. Now is when the real work begins.
As one of several girl-centred organizations in Canada, we have an opportunity to empower girls in their daily lives and in a larger civic context. We offer a safe environment where girls can voice their thoughts, challenges and ideas and we have an obligation to listen. We have a stage to advocate for the Day of the Girl and make it meaningful and impactful to girls. And we have the tools to facilitate change – the girls themselves.
At Girl Guides of Canada, we work with tens of thousands of girls across Canada. Who better to ask about what the Day of the Girl should be about and what’s important to girls than girls? We did just that for our October 11th celebrations. We asked girls to create a graffiti wall expressing what it means to be a girl in Canada, today.
Our girls then created postcards reflecting the kind of future they want for themselves and for other girls across Canada and abroad. Our girls expressed a variety of issues that they cared about including education, equal rights, freedom from violence, gender-based stereotypes, being yourself, saving the environment and dancing on rainbows. (These postcards will be mailed to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to inform the development of future programming for Day of the Girl).
Our challenge now is to help girls achieve this future and give them the tools to lead us there. If girls aren’t given the opportunity to voice what is important to them and empowered to take action to create these realities, then others will for them. Girl Guides exists to make sure girls take the lead in their lives and in their communities by developing their confidence, courage and resourcefulness and providing girls with the means to make a difference in the world.
Girl Guides of Canada has a unique opportunity to engage 70,000 Canadian girls and represent girls’ interests on multiple levels. After all of the activity around the inaugural Day of the Girl and turning our sites towards the next Day, we must still remain aware of girls’ issues the other 364 days of the year.Christine Harris is the Marketing Coordinator at Girl Guides of Canada and has a passion for engaging diverse youth in the arts. She is Advisory Committee Chair at North York Arts and was previously Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Scarborough Arts.