In 2012, the United Nations declared that October 11th, will be known as the International Day of the Girl. This day was not only established to recognize and address the needs and challenges girls face from all corners of the world, it also promotes the empowerment of their basic human rights. Often, those basic human rights are denied, due to war, conflict, oppression, and many other reasons.

In the next 10 years, 600 million girls will enter the workforce, a world constantly transformed by innovation, technology, and creativity. Nonetheless, today in 2018, nearly one young woman out of four is currently unemployed, uneducated, or both.

Many girls around the world have limited, and in some cases have no access to education, appropriate health services, healthy food, clean water, safe work, and basic living conditions. For some little girls, their conditions are even worse: they live in fear and are denied access to education, where they are forced to seek work at a very young age to provide for their family. For others, they are forced into marriage and motherhood at a very young age, while still being children themselves.

According to UN Women, this year alone, 12 million girls under 18 will be married, and 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years old will become pregnant in developing regions.

Sadia is one of them. Living in Bangladesh, Sadia was forced into marriage at 14 years old. Sadia met her husband on the day of their wedding. She had never seen him before. Unfortunately, prior to getting married, while in 8th grade, Sadia was forced to quit school by her parents. She didn’t want to quit; she dreamt of becoming a teacher to give others the opportunity to learn! Every day, she looked forward to her mathematics class. While pregnant with her first child, Sadia witnessed her friends and brothers attend school and do their homework together. Heartbroken and terrified, Sadia put aside her dreams of becoming a mathematics teacher to raise her children and provide for her family.

Sadia’s story is a reality for many young girls and child brides around the world. While our world is shaping itself, we must not forget that many girls just like Sadia are forced to give up on their dreams.

On International Day of Girl, we encourage girls to claim their place. Girls are passionate and committed. They lead the way as volunteers, activists, authors, entrepreneurs, and students. More than ever, girls and young women follow their dreams, and fight to have access to education and a proper work environment.

“Yet, they persist, they succeed. Girls are innovating technology to solve global challenges, they are standing up for the environment, they are raising their voices against violence and they are preparing to run for office“ – UN Women.

Gender equality between boys and girls isn’t optional, it is necessary. Our future depends on it.

Because girls move the world.

Because girls change the world.

Because girls lead the world.