By Melor Suhaimi, MD Programs Manager
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff
“On this International Day of the Girl Child, I call on all governments to take action to end all forms of violence against girls in all parts of the world. Together, we must create a world where violence against women and girls is never tolerated and girls are always empowered to reach their full potential.”
–Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Three years ago, the United Nations declared October 11th to be International Day of the Girl “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This past Saturday, six female Middle School AALEADers attended an event at Broad Acres Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD held by a local non-profit, Community Bridges, to celebrate and recognize the special day of October 11th – International Day of the Girl! Community Bridges “empowers girls from diverse backgrounds to become exceptional students, positive leaders, and healthy young women.” With a mission that embodies the purpose of October 11th’s International Day of the Girl, Community Bridges held an event that recognized their youth’s talents, highlighted the importance of girls and education, and gathered a diverse group of girls to rally on the need for more educational rights for girls. Guest speakers included Community Bridges’ Executive Director, Cynthia James, and Montgomery County Councilmember, Nancy Navarro.
Our AALEAD youth enjoyed cultural dance performances by Community Bridges’ youth, spoken word poetry about the power of being a girl by a Community Bridges staff member, and participated in a rally where the girls at the event chanted phrases like, “What do we want? Education! When do we want it? Now!” AALEAD youth were able to find differences and similarities among all the girls that attended the event, which in turn, created a sense of unity that formed throughout the day. It was powerful to see young females taking a stand on an issue that is recognizable throughout the world. By the end of the event, AALEAD youth reflected on October 11th, 2014. AALEAD youth were asked, “Why do you think it’s important to celebrate and recognize International Day of the Girl?” Answers included; “Girls need to be seen as equals,” “Girl power!” and “Because I want to grow up and be whatever I want — like an astronaut or the President of the United States!” It was a first for our AALEADers to attend an event to highlight International Day of the Girl, but it definitely will not be our last because of how important it is to recognize girls and education.