Yes, today is the UN’s International Day of the Girl. Twitter has been filled with useful links and helpful reminders. It is sobering to read some of the facts organisations such as PlanUK have on their sites:
• 66 million girls are currently denied an education – that’s one in five girls globally.
• 150 million girls under 18 have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence.
• 140 million women and girls are living with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
• Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 in the world’s poorest countries.
These statistics are horrific and I totally endorse campaigns that fight for the right for girls to get an education. It has been recognised that those who are educated are much more likely to give back to their own communities – see my post on International Women’s Day for more on this.
In all honesty, my first thought today when I remembered it was the Day of the Girl was about my daughter. I am so grateful to God for her. For her tenacity, intelligence, care for others and quick humour. I’m also grateful she is in a good school and surrounded by lovely friends. The problems and difficulties she may face on a daily basis seem to be on such a different level to those girls who have to fight for the right to go to school. I want to remind her of how fortunate she is when she comes home from school, and encourage her to think about some of the ways she may be able to help reach out to others less fortunate than herself.
While I know my daughter’s difficulties are on a different scale to so many millions around the world they are no less real to her. She has had bouts of bullying to deal with, is shy beyond belief at times, lacks self-confidence and is growing up in a society that tells her beauty is SO important. What the latter is doing to her self-esteem I shudder to think and am so conscious that I need to be careful about the messages I give her about being a Christian woman today.
I want my daughter to achieve everything that she wants to – and that God has for her. I want her to experience so much of life – the amazing opportunities she has living so close to London, but also want her to be aware of what other children in other countries have to deal with on a daily basis. I want her to celebrate being a girl – and be as carefree as possible, secure in the knowledge that we, as her parents, have her back. Our country, even our town, is not as safe as it used to be, but I do want our daughter to feel safe. Most of all I want her to know that she is loved.
So on this, the International Day of the Girl, I want to celebrate my daughter. What a wonderful gift she is to me. She stretches my parenting skills to breaking point on many an occasion, dealing with her insecurities often brings mine to the fore and there are moments that are frustrating beyond belief. And yet the love I feel for my child is incredible, and being her mum is an honour way more than I feel I deserve. She is an incredible mix of the good (and bad!) in both me and my husband – and she is the future. Her and other girls her age. We MUST invest our time, talents and energy in ensuring girls reach their full potential – wherever they are in the world. For me, on a day-to-day basis, that means pouring my life out for my daughter. I can’t wait to see what am amazing woman she turns out to be 🙂