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Day of the Girl

Their participation in perpetuating harmful traditions is deep-rooted patriarchy in its ugliest form.
“Women and girls belong in the seats of classrooms, boardrooms, senate chambers..."
In September, I take up my new responsibilities in Geneva, Switzerland as Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament. The UN reflects the dreams and aspirations of not just Canadians but of the world. My new role will allow me to address global challenges from a different perspective than I've had at Plan Canada, but as I prepare to leave I reflect on a few proud accomplishments that bolster my confidence and hope for the future.
In Africa, Ebola and women's rights are not unrelated. As Bertha, one of the young women in the book, says: "When you educate a girl, everything changes." Everything. Among the many ugly lessons from the Ebola zone is the cost of poor primary health care, and how it is directly correlated to female literacy. We know better. From Vietnam to Jordan to Ghana, we know that frontline health care improves when women are involved. Better still if they are in charge, as professionally trained workers, and educated mothers with freedom to make health care decisions for their families.
It's an alarming statistic that 66-million girls are out of school globally, and that there are 33-million fewer girls than boys in primary school. Back in September 2009, Plan Canada's Because I am a Girl initiative launched an online petition advocating for a Day of the Girl.
On the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, let's celebrate the determination of girls everywhere, help them to overcome barriers -- and encourage them to dream big. As progressive as we like to think our society is, there are still barriers to girls realizing their potential.
On October 11, 2012 the world marked the first-ever International Day of the Girl. The celebration was bittersweet, though, given it occurred against the backdrop of worldwide shock and headlines concerning 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a young activist from Pakistan, shot in the head by a Taliban member because of her ongoing work and advocacy to ensure more girls get to go to school.
This fall, we released a report from this study called, Hopes and Dreams, which provides a detailed look into the girls' lives at the tender age of five. There was good news: the majority of the girls in our study have parents who have high aspirations for them and who promote gender equality in their households.