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international day of the girl child

ICJW welcomes the United Nations declaration of 11 October 2012 as the world's first International Day of the Girl Child.  Celebrating the day is important because simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life.

ICJW President Sharon Gustafson says: "This very special inaugural day falls after the conclusion of our major High Holidays and Sukkot.  I do hope that you will take the opportunity to publicize within your own affiliate ICJW's interest and work in the area of the Girl Child.  You will recall that one of the major concerns which our Founders addressed in establishing the International Council of Jewish Women was the desperate situation many girls and young women found themselves in at the close of the 19th century and early 20th century.  We can do no less than carry their vision forward with our work today." 
 
In the poorest societies a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger and disease than her brothers.  She will have fewer opportunities for an education and career.  In many developing countries, 1 out of 7 girls marries before the age of 15.  Almost 90 million girls are involved in child labor, often hidden from the public eye.  Girls also have the double burden of long hours of domestic work coupled with economic activity outside the home.
 
Further, throughout the world girls face higher rates of violence, poverty and discrimination.  In developing countries pregnancy is the leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19.  In the world's newest country, South Sudan, a girl is more likely to die in childbirth than to go to school.  In the first world, girls experience high rates of depression, sexual harassment and violence.
 
This international day will provide a focus for education and promote equal treatment and opportunities for girls around the world in areas such as law, nutrition, health care, education, training, and freedom from violence and abuse. 

Judy Mintz, one of the ICJW's representatives at the UN in New York explains their participation in the NGO Working Group on Girls. "ICJW is one of 80 member organizations which make up the WGG which remains dedicated to promoting the rights of girls worldwide, advancing the status of girls and assisting them to develop to their full potential, and monitoring and pushing for girls’ inclusion in the UN’s agenda.  Currently the work plan includes focusing on girls’ participation as Girl Advocates, protecting girls from violence with a plan to end trafficking during the World Cup in June 2014, spreading awareness of girls’ issues through the creation of talking points delivered to UN member states, and editing a new Action for Girls Newsletter which is available at www.girlsrights.org.