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10 million girls are forced or coerced into marriage.
One in 3 girls is denied a secondary education worldwide.
Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for young women ages
15–19 in developing countries.
150 million girls under age 18 have been raped or faced
another form of sexual violence.
are fortunate to live in a country where, for many girls, forced early marriage
or being banned from school are not the issues du jour. So how can you have a
meaningful conversation with your teenage daughter when death from early
childbirth isn't even on her radar? How can you speak with your middle
schooler about how unfair it is that a third of girls are denied access to
secondary education when their favorite thing to complain about is homework?
asked experts and regular moms alike for their tips on engaging our daughters—and sons, too—and inspiring them to appreciate their good fortune while brainstorming
ways to promote gender equality worldwide. You'll help them develop empathy and
broaden their worldview and will likely be greeted with a deeply meaningful
conversation in return.
Even better, most of these can be done with little
planning, so if it's 3 p.m. and you're just now realizing that today is
International Day of the Girl, you still have plenty of time to make a
1.Go the tech route
If your daughter is into
social media, encourage her to follow @dayofthegirl on Twitter or to show her solidarity
with a Day of the Girl
twibbon. Also, on October 11, the CNN Freedom Project is running a live Twitter chat with trafficking
survivor Rani Hong (@RanisVoice). At age 7, Rani was bought by a slave master and eventually sold into
illegal adoption. Using the hashtag #cnnfreedom, your daughter can ask Rani any question she might
have about human trafficking at 4 p.m. ET on October 11.
This is a great way to help your daughter emotionally connect with another woman, even one in the most remote corners of the globe.
Teach her the concept of microfinance, providing others with access
to capital to help them create a better life for themselves and their families.
Visit Kiva.org together and page through hundreds of borrower stories of people
seeking loans to grow their business.
Encourage your daughter to find someone
she connects with, whether it's a young Pakistani woman looking to purchase
more goats so she can sell the milk, or a 30-year-old mom in Honduras seeking
funds to purchase grains, sugar and bread to sell at the market.
Once the borrower
fulfills her loan request, she begins paying it back; your daughter will
receive an email that her $25 has been repaid, and she can reinvest it in
someone else. This is a great way to help your daughter emotionally connect
with another woman, even one in the most remote corners of the globe.
3.Talk about child marriage in an age-appropriate way
to CARE, in 26 countries, girls are more likely to be married before age 18
than to be enrolled in secondary school. If your daughter is too young to know what Burkina Faso and Chad
are, come at the child marriage talk from a
different angle, as Gayatri Patel, CARE USA's senior gender and
empowerment policy advocate, did with her 6-year-old:
"I put it in terms of how sometimes girls are not able to go to school like she
is because they are expected to stay at home with their families or husbands or
work outside of the home (cleaning, cooking, caring for children, or farming
for example) rather than learning, playing and doing fun things. I asked her
(a) whether she thought it was fair that in many of these spots, boys get to go
to school but girls don't, (b) what she thinks those girls who don't get to go
to school are missing, and (c) what she thinks might help. We briefly
touched on the fact that many girls don't get to go to school because they have
to be married, which she thought was gross because 'boys are gross.' Her
idea was that we talk to girls' parents to convince them to let their daughters
go to school because kids are supposed to go to school, not take care of
babies. (She has a little brother that she is forced to play with
sometimes, so this last part might have been personal.)"
4. Create a vision board
If you grew up in the '80s, you remember those posters we used to make for
our friends, plastered with words and pictures torn from our favorite
magazines. Bring that idea into the 21st century by gathering up a
slew of magazines, two pairs of scissors, some double-sided Scotch tape, and
start cutting out meaningful words, phrases or images that catch your eye and
say "girl power" in some way to you or your child—anything "inspiring,
encouraging, inspirational or that encompasses her as a strong girl," says mom
of four and blogger Amy Bell of Positively
5.Don't be afraid to use YouTube
It's wonderful that today's kids have strong role models and new versions of rock stars.
Smolyansky, a mother of two young girls (ages 5 and 7), CEO of Lifeway Foods
and co-founder of the Test400K
nonprofit, which is dedicated to ending the U.S. backlog of rape kits, is no stranger to
broaching emotionally charged issues with her kids.
"It's about using appropriate language and
approaching topics when they make sense," she says. "When they disrespect their
food, we pull up YouTube videos of starving children from around the world, and
while it is frightening for them to see emaciated children, it's also a reality
that millions of children around the world are living with. And guess what? Now
our girls are very careful about not wasting food. We talk about good touch and
bad touch, about the fact that they get to control their body, and if they don't
want to hug someone, they don't have to. When they complained about school, we
used it as an opportunity to share that around the world, 62 million girls
don't get to go to school. We pulled up a YouTube video about Malala and
explained that while they are safe in their school, some kids are not. It's
wonderful that today's kids have strong role models and new versions of rock
6.Involve your sons, too
In order for girls to enjoy gender equality, boys need to be on board, too.
"As parents of sons, we are not off the hook in promoting gender equity," says Robert Andrews, a dad of twin boys living outside of Boston. "In fact, we may even be more important in the fight for equality. Only when boys see themselves as feminists will they grow up to see women as true equals. If you believe in gender equality, it is just as important to celebrate International Day of the Girl with our sons."
Ziauddin Yousafzai's TED Talk about his daughter, Malala
9.… or pick out a poignant
holiday gift for a loved one
can also choose one of the above options in lieu of a holiday gift for a family
member: Your daughter's grandmother would probably be far more touched to hear
that her granddaughter purchased a cow for a Tanzanian family in
her honor instead of perfume or a bathrobe.
aching documentary tells the stories of nine girls from developing nations such
Ethiopia, India, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Middle school girls should be
ready for Suma's story (bonded
story may be better left to older girls (assault). Watch the two-minute trailer first—appropriate for a PG-13 audience—then download the full film here.