Herstory

whatgirlssay

Let’s play Fact or Fiction. I’ll make a statement and you decide if it’s fact or fiction.

1. The majority of women are illiterate.

2. More girls than boys drop out of school.

3. Most countries have a minimum age where girls can marry.

4. Most rape occurs before the age of 18.

5. Concern about body image and weight begins in middle school for girls (approximately 11 to 13 years of age).

Here’s a startling and extremely disturbing fact: the Taliban made an assassination attempt on a Pakistani 14-year old school girl. Two others were also wounded. You probably have already seen this in the news. I was stunned when I first saw it come across my Twitter feed. Malala Yousafzai was 11 when she began a diary that brought her into the public. The Taliban had control of the Swat Valley region where she and her family lived and female education was banned. The Taliban accused her of promoting secularism and determined to eradicate her influence.

The United Nations set October 11 as the International Day of the Girl. In light of what Malala is risking her life for, it couldn’t be timelier. It is a sad state of the 21st century that we must set aside such a day for awareness for issues facing girls. History teaches us that it has never been easy to be a girl. Tremendous strides have been made for changing opportunities and perceptions for girls and women, but it is still a complicated and challenging problem everywhere.

Let’s see what our Fact or Fiction game revealed.

1. The majority of women are illiterate. Fact. By 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read. UNESCO has an outstanding 2011 report, The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education monitoring Education for All initiative. I highly recommend reading this report (PDF). It’s intense and quite enlightening.

2. More girls than boys drop out of school. Fiction, but only about 30% of girls in the world are enrolled in secondary school. While more boys than girls drop out of school, one in four girls drop out in the United States. The statistic is even higher for kids of color. The Women’s National Law Center produced a report in 2007, When Girls Don’t Graduate We All Fail (PDF).

3. Most countries have a minimum age where girls can marry. Fiction. One in seven girls is married off before the age of 15. It is estimated that 25,000 girls get married every day! The girls have no say in who they are marrying and most often the men are decades older.

4. Most rape occurs before the age of 18. Fact. Just in the United States, more than half (54%) of all rapes of females happens before age 18. One in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. Worldwide girls 11 and younger are forced into prostitution. Some estimate that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year.

5. Concern about body image and weight begins in middle school for girls (approximately 11 to 13 years of age). Fiction, it starts in 3rd to 5th grade! More than half (54%) of 3rd to 5th grade girls worry about their body image and 37% worry about their weight.

The status of girls is obviously a problem worldwide. Read what girls are saying and thinking about the issues facing them today.  You’ll see topics for navigation on the left or scroll down the page about two-thirds and you’ll see the same topics.

Read the remarks Secretary State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave to a group of Girl Scouts (celebrating 100 years) in honor of the first International Day of the Girl.

I’d love to hear what you think about these issues facing girls.

Photo credit: Day of the Girl.

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