So what exactly is this Day of the Girl that’s all over social media? It originally began back in 2011 when the UN declared October 11th to be the International Day of the Girl Child in order “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” By doing this, the UN acknowledged that girls encounter more obstacles in pursuing a healthy, safe, and educated life than almost any other population in the world, an idea we are very familiar with here at Girls in the Game.
Organizations across the globe from the UN and the WHO to the World Bank have also found that when we support girls that effect spills over into the community around them; educated, empowered girls become agents for change, the key to breaking cycles of poverty and violence. According to The Girl Effect, an organization that works to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, “If every Ethiopian girl finished school, it would add almost US $4 billion to the country’s economy.” Furthermore, “If adolescent pregnancy was delayed in India, it would add US $383 billion in potential lifetime income.” See what I mean about powerful agents for change?
In the end, it comes down to this simple idea: strong girls make a strong world.
So what can we do in our corner of Chicago? Are these issues really important in the modern US? Of course they are! While girls in the US don’t always face problems like child marriage, they are still at a huge disadvantage to their male peers, especially when it comes to access to sports and physical education.
A recent report on US high schools found that although schools had increased the opportunities for girls’ participation in sports after the passing of Title IX, that progress slowed significantly after 2000, especially in urban areas. Appropriately, the title of this report was “Progress Without Equality”, an elegant way to summarize the state of girls’ sports in the US today.
Girls in the Game passionately believes that access to sports and health education is a fundamental right for all girls. Our programs empower the whole girl by building girls’ confidence, exposing them to a wide variety of sports, and incorporating health and leadership topics. And we know it’s working. According to our 2014-2015 After School evaluation, a staggering 83 percent of our girls demonstrated significant increases in grit or determination, along with improvements in self-worth and sense of belonging. These are strengths that will help carry them through their education and into adulthood.
Not only are our girls gaining grit, but they are also becoming agents for change in their communities. Consider the issue of violence in Chicago. After one season with Girls in the Game, our teens were 71 percent less likely to support aggressive conflict resolution..
So celebrate the Day of the Girl with us. We are proud to be part of the international movement to protect and promote the rights of girls all across the world. After all strong girls = strong Chicago, and strong girls = strong world.