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International Day of the Girl

International Day of the Girl 2023

It will take another 131 years to achieve gender equality, according to experts. That’s five more generations of girls facing an unequal world. With progress on equality stalled and reversing in some parts of the world, it may take even longer.

But we know there’s hope.

Girls, in all their diversity, are calling for support from all of us to change track and speed up progress, to beat the clock and achieve gender equality.

All around the world, more young people are engaging in activism and advocacy, organising and building movements for gender and social justice. They are driving transformative change for and with their communities.

Girls are campaigning on issues that impact them the most, from sexual and reproductive health and rights, to inequality and gender-based violence, and to climate change and the lack of youth voices in decision-making. They speak up for themselves, their futures and for those around them who are suffering discrimination and unable to raise their own voices.

We know girls are facing a huge battle for their equality. We will stand with girls, raising their voices until we are all equal.

Read our report

Hear from young women activists

Meet Climate Activist Oilean
At the age of 23 Oilean is a youth activist, the first Irish Climate Youth Delegate and a Youth Advisory Panel member for Plan International. Read more
Meet Gender Rights Activist Fatima
Joining Plan International’s ‘She Leads’ project united Fatima with an army of strong feminists all fighting for equal rights. Read more
Meet Girls’ Rights Activist Blessing
Blessing has just turned 17 years old, and she has already helped pass a new law in Sierra Leone. She advocates for rights for girls and women. Read more

What can you do?

We believe in the power of determined optimism and activism in the fight for everyone’s rights and will not stop our work until every child is treated equally.

To close the gender gap faster and beat the clock it’s essential to:

  • Shift access to resources to young people.
  • Focus on promoting girls’ leadership.
  • Open space within formal structures.
  • Resource girl- and youth-centred action.

We need more than ever to invest in and strengthen the campaigns of girl activists and girl-led groups.

We must all stand in solidarity with girls around the world, until we are all equal.

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Learn more about International Day of the Girl

11 October has been a key global moment to celebrate the power of girls and highlight the barriers they face since the United Nations adopted it as International Day of the Girl in December 2011.   

While there has long been an International Women’s Day and an International Day of the Child, neither of these days recognise the unique position of girls who are discriminated against simply for being young and female.

Plan International led the global effort to build a coalition of support behind the International Day of the Girl, securing support from the Canadian government which took our call all the way to the United Nations.

We worked with girls who believed that an international day could be a launch pad for global action on girls’ rights. Through their stories, ideas and views it was clear that an international day for girls would bring global focus to their lack of representation in the global development agenda. 

Ciara OBrien and Amarachukwu Onyegiri at the UN in Geneva
Plan International YAP members at the UN in Geneva

Advocating for girls’ education

130 million girls around the world today are out of school. There are many barriers to girls’ education globally: poverty, child marriage, sexual exploitation, FGM, period poverty, disability and stigma are just some of them. Lockdowns and school closures due to COVID-19 have hit girls’ education particularly hard and threaten to roll back years of progress.

We believe that girls’ education leads to girls’ equality. Education is critical in tackling harmful gender norms, and empowering girls to drive change. It gives girls the skills to become leaders, innovators and change makers, and to tackle future crises.

Ending child marriage

Every 2 seconds, a girl is forced to marry. If we don’t act now, more than 150 million girls will become child brides by 2030.

Girls married before the age of 18 are more likely to experience physical, sexual and domestic violence. They become isolated with their freedom curtailed and are much less likely to stay in school.

We work to empower girls to claim their rights and continue their education. We challenge deeply rooted gender inequalities and social norms and are ensuring that girls are involved in the process.