Courage, Determination and Peace on International Day of the Girl

By Anna Maria Chávez

Two years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 International Day of the Girl. It's a day to recognize girls' unique insights, talents and contributions to their communities, and to champion the "empowerment, protection and participation of girls in all levels of society." At Girl Scouts, every day is Day of the Girl -- for over a century, our movement has cultivated the abilities of girls across America and the world, helping these girls build essential life skills today so that they become the leaders of tomorrow.

This year, Day of the Girl happens to fall on the same day that the Nobel Committee will announce the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. It's fitting that on this important day, a young girl could make history by becoming the youngest person ever to win the coveted award.

16-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for daring to speak out for the education of girls, is widely considered the frontrunner for the 2013 prize. Her story is an incredible tale of courage and perseverance in the face of systematic marginalization and suppression of girls and women in a Taliban-controlled area of the world.

Regardless of the ultimate decision of the Nobel Committee, Malala has already changed lives and opened eyes across the globe. In the best tradition of the Girl Scout Movement, a young woman who has never had an opportunity to wear our uniform has already made the world a better place through her remarkable courage, confidence and character.

Since our founding in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA has been helping build girls like Malala in this country and across the globe -- young women with the courage to stand up, speak out and be counted. But we need to do more to help. Globally, 66 million girls are out of school, and there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary schools in developing countries.

That is why in 2012, Girl Scouts launched To Get Her There, a national advocacy campaign that seeks to recruit all of society to invest in girls. Whether you give money to a cause for girls, volunteer with the Girl Scout Movement or simply help a girl finish her homework, To Get Her There is about ensuring that girls like Malala all over the world have the skills and confidence they need to lead us to a brighter future.

On International Day of the Girl, let's remember that our girls deserve nothing less.