Girl from Bolivia smiles broadly as she runs with arms widespread, beneath green trees and a rainbow

International Day of the Girl

How we celebrate and empower girls to have brighter futures

What is International Day of the Girl?

An annual initiative, launched in 2012 and taking place on the 11th October, The International Day of the Girl is a celebration marked by the United Nations to recognise and promote girls’ rights.

The UN created ‘International Day of the Girl’ to increase the awareness of gender inequality and the adversities girls face as a result of humanitarian crises and the cycle of poverty. While these issues exist all year round, this day marks the prevalence of these issues and provokes political conversations for action.

Among all the adversities young girls around the world face, they can live in the hope that one day their lives will change for the better. Whilst so many don’t have a voice, we do. Together, we can use our platform for action and transform the social wellbeing, and the futures, of these young girls.

Why was International Day of the Girl created?

There are 1.1 billion young girls worldwide, many of whom face challenges such as child marriage, child poverty, child labour, female genital mutilation and adolescent pregnancies – simply because they’re girls. These unnatural experiences remove their childhood innocence, forcing them to mature too quickly.

How Child Sponsorship will help

As a child sponsor, you can help fulfil our vision of ensuring every girl reaches her full God-given potential.

When you sponsor a girl, you help to break the cycles of discrimination, lack of education and child marriage. You give her the chance to enjoy opportunities she could once only dream of.

We urgently need child sponsors to transform girls' lives today. We need you.

Your sponsorship of one girl breaks the cycle of poverty in her life, and has a ripple effect. For every child sponsored, 4 more benefit too.

A life transformed

Esin*, 13, lives in Herat, Afghanistan. Her mother Shakib*, was married at 13 and pregnant at 14. She didn’t want Esin to have the same fate, but Esin’s father arranged for her to be sold as a bride for just under £6,500.

Shakib and Esin had been attending a World Vision organised Community Change Group where they learned about the physical and mental consequences of child marriage and child pregnancy, and that Esin had the right not to get married if she didn’t want to.

Girl in Afghanistan, wearing a headscarf looks at a painting of a woman
This Afghan girl (not Esin*, name omitted for privacy) was almost married at 11. Thankfully, her mother attended World Vision classes and decided that her daughter was too young to get married.
I'm so happy that I'm not going to get married. I am going to work even harder in school and be the top of my class. Someday I will support my family.

Esin (name changed), 13

Stopped from being married

Shakib asked her husband to stop the marriage but he refused; he was out of work with serious health issues and saw the marriage as a solution for their financial troubles. Esin and her mother turned to the community change group for help. The group joined community elders and spent nearly a month attempting to change Esin’s father’s mind.

With the support of the group facilitator, they convinced Esin’s father that child marriage is wrong. Now the marriage has been stopped, and Esin can continue her education. Like many, the family is still in a serious financial situation but Shakib has begun washing clothes and cleaning homes so her daughter can stay in school and remain free from the dangers of child marriage.

*Name changed to protect her identity

Why empowering girls is transformative

Through supporting and empowering girls, we can not only help to transform their lives, but the lives of children for generations to come.

International Day of the Girl over time

Each year a different theme is created to help create a focal point for the campaign.

International Day of the Girl themes include:

  • 2012 – ‘Ending Child Marriage’
  • 2013 – ‘Innovating for Girl’s Education’
  • 2014 – ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence’
  • 2015 – ‘Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030’
  • 2016 – 'Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls'
  • 2017 – 'EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises'
  • 2018 – 'With Her: A Skilled Girl Force'
  • 2019 – 'Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow'
  • 2020 – 'My voice, our equal future'

You can use the hashtag #standwithher to help show support on social media, spread the message and give young girls a voice for change.

Throughout the year, you can sponsor a girl, helping to empower young women and providing them with a brighter future. Your support can be life changing.

FAQs

  • Girls across the world face threats including child marriage, female genital mutilation and sexual violence. UNICEF estimates that an adolescent girl dies every 10 minutes as a direct result of violence.

    Violence can take many forms; domestic abuse, trafficking, rape, or harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

    Violence against girls crosses culture, ethnicity and economic status. We know that violence does not begin with a conflict or an emergency, but any existing levels of violence against women and girls do increase during these times.

    Violence against girls and women has its roots in gender inequality and discrimination - and negative norms or practices that result from these.

  • Although World Vision also supports boys, a girl child faces unique challenges across the world, simply because of her gender. These issues therefore need to be addressed specifically. Furthermore, gender inequality stagnates social progress that benefits everyone. As the UN state in Sustainable Development goal 5, 'advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of girls and boys.' Gender equality is beneficial to global development and economic growth, and the UN states that 'investing in programs improving income-generating activities for women can return $7 dollars for every dollar spent.'

  • There are unfortunately a number of countries across the world where child marriage takes place. Most commonly it happens in developing countries, but not exclusively. Of the top 25 countries for the highest rates of child marriage, almost all of them are affected by natural disasters, fragility, or conflict. For 70 years, World Vision has been working in these countries to end child marriage. 

    According to the report, State of the World's Children, conducted by UNICEF in 2017, the countries with the highest rates of child marriage under 18 (counted among women who are now aged 20-24) are:

    Niger* - 76%
    Central African Republic* - 68%
    Chad* - 67%
    Bangladesh* - 59%
    Mali* - 52%
    South Sudan* - 52%
    Burkina Faso - 52%
    Guinea - 51%
    Mozambique* - 48%
    India* - 47%

    *Countries where World Vision works with communities to help the most vulnerable children.

    40% of the world's child brides are in South Asia. Mainly due to the large population of the region and the fact that child marriage has been common here for a long time. India however has been making fast progress towards eliminating child marriage, particularly for girls under the age of 15.
    In sub-Saharan Africa, progress is much slower, and is another region for concern. Africa's larger population means that more children will be at risk of child marriage.

  • Many families living in poverty turn to child marriage, or put their children to work, because otherwise they will not have enough money to survive. World Vision helps families to gain other sources of income, including empowering women to start their own businesses or purchasing livestock for family farms. In some communities, a girls education is the last to be prioritised because women traditionally become Mothers from a young age.

  • We help families to provide for themselves so that they do not feel the need to marry their daughters at a young age or send them out to work.

    We fund the education of girls and help them reach their career girls, including sponsored girls. Many sponsored girls go on to become teachers, nurses and business owners.

    We challenge social norms and harmful practices, working with faith leaders and communities to acknowledge and act upon gender injustices and negative practices.

    We engage men and boys to make sure they recognise and act upon their obligation to prevent and end violence against girls and women.

    We provide training for children on their rights, how to better protect themselves, challenging existing gender imbalances and actively engaging with the wider community.

    We protect girls in emergencies, creating Child Friendly Spaces where girls and boys are protected from the risk of violence, have space to play and continue with their education.

    We also work within refugee camps to promote gender equality and reduce the occurrence of violence.

    We provide medical, legal and psychological support as well as life skills, vocational training and other support for girls affected by violence, including former girl soldiers.

  • You can easily sign up to sponsor a child on the Sponsor a Child page or by calling our Supporter Care Team on 01908 84 10 10.

  • World Vision has had a Child Sponsorship programme for more than 70 years, we pair donors with a vulnerable child who needs protection and empowerment.

    Child Sponsorship brings much-needed change to more than just one child — the benefits you help provide extends to each child's family, their community and other children in need. 

    This is because World Vision partners, plans and works alongside local community members to help build healthy, sustainable communities for vulnerable children in the world’s hardest places. Learn more about how Child Sponsorship works. 

  • All of World Vision's work begins with listening to communities in need. Community leaders work with us to identify the most vulnerable children and families who will benefit from Child Sponsorship.

  • We work with national governments and other international agencies to identify the regions and communities that are most in need and where the most vulnerable children live. We then meet with community leaders and the wider community to gain a greater understanding of the challenges and the opportunities that exist for them and we develop a long-term plan together, to break the cycle of poverty. Find out more about how Child Sponsorship works

About Child Sponsorship