On October 11, UN agencies and staff celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child, so it’s not surprising that some of October’s most shared digital initiatives and popular tweets focused on the rights and needs of girls. The theme for this year’s celebration focused on “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls”. The goals referenced in the theme are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015, which seek to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all”. Achieving progress towards the goal of Gender Equality involves recognition that girls are disadvantaged and discriminated against across the world. This year’s celebration of International Girl’s Day honed in on the need for more and better data about the world’s 1.1 billion girls. UNICEF’s efforts focused on a campaign to harness the “Power of Data for Girls”, which recognizes that there is a data gap about critical indicators of well-being for girls, and that this data is critical for measuring progress and ensuring accountability.
Sometimes employing the hastag #DayoftheGirl, UN agencies and staff shared some of the data we do have, which underscores the importance of creating an equal playing field for all children. Kent Page shared information from a UNICEF report showing that that worldwide, girls spend 160 million more hours on household chores than boys of the same age. Girls aged 10 to 14 spend about 50% more time on household chores, including collecting water and firewood, than boys in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. One likely cost of all of this housework? Less time spent studying and in school.
Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shared a powerful idea from a UNPFA campaign: what the world looks like in 15 years depends on how the we treat today’s 10-year old girls. UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2016 report acknowledges that age 10 is a pivotal one for girls across the world, many of whom who must navigate a complicated path to adulthood that narrows due to gender discrimination. One of the biggest vulnerabilities girls around the world begin to face at this age is child marriage and the possibility of sexual violence. UN agencies and staffers shared information, outrage and stories from girls who survived child marriage with the hashtag #EndChildMarriage. A girl who is married before she reaches adulthood will likely be pressured to have children of her own at an early age and abandon her own education. UNPFA data indicates that each additional year a girl is in school adds 10% more to her wages later in life. Being forced to leave childhood behind too soon can have long-lasting economic impacts, in addition to emotional ones. As UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi declared, Let girls be girls!
Find us again next month, when we’ll be sharing the tweets, hashtags and digital campaigns that generated the most public engagement in November. We’ll share the story behind those campaigns and highlight a few of the UN staff who used their social media accounts to highlight the important work of the UN. Enjoy your November!