International Day Of The Girl Child – Empowering Girls, Building Resilience

October 11th marks the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child, with this years focus on the empowerment of girls before, during and after crises and the requirement to equip our women and girls with emergency response and resilience planning. Today, let us not simply acknowledge the contribution, resilience and value of some 1.1 billion girls, but let us promote and encourage the empowerment of those that are seldom included in the rhetoric concerning the pursuit of humanity.

Consider the current climate; be it volatile states, vulnerable communities, the seemingly irreversible effects of climate change, the scourge of extremism, resource scarcity and human trafficking. The urgency of these global problems necessitates agency amongst those that are most vulnerable to atrocities and natural disasters, both in the global north and south.

Humanitarian crises leave women and girls the most vulnerable, accounting for 75% of refugees or displaced persons at risk from war, famine, persecution, and natural disaster. With the current global refugee crisis being one of the worst in history, the plight of girls has intensified immensely. This escalation must be met with avenues toward empowerment for women and girls as they attempt to navigate through the worst possible conditions.


Rohingya Muslim children attend religious school at a refugee camp outside Sittwe, Myanmar May 21, 2015. Picture taken May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

No real resistance or response to both the social and economic problems rooted in climate change, inequality or violent extremism can be achieved without the empowerment of girls and women. To include girls and women in the peace-building processes is paramount to achieving inclusive and successful avenues toward social justice, equality and conflict resolution.

UNESCO’s director general, Ms Irina Bokova states, “No society will flourish and no peace agreement will be lasting without empowering girls in peacebuilding and reconstruction”.

Bokova’s understanding of the need to empower girls in order to effectively aid long term humanitarian efforts, to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals and to better the most vulnerable, is a prerequisite to real positive change and sustainable solutions to the global communities ever-increasing problems. When attempting to tackle problems of conflict or resource scarcity, for example, the value of girls is seldom acknowledged, their innovation seldom utilized and creativity seldom seen.

Women and girls are more inclined to be included in the narrative concerning community, traditions and social practises, rather than social, economic and political progression and resilience. The economy, for example, is a historically male dominated domain, however recent recognition of female economic contribution has led to groundbreaking initiatives that not only include but encourage female presence in this male-led field.

What must be noted is that the social, economic and political implications of female empowerment does not only benefit women and girls, but proves beneficial to the entirety of humanity. The road to female empowerment should not only be tread by women and girls, but men and boys alike.

By Munibah Qureshi
Policy & Social Impact Editor

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