Let’s make it Malala Day – International Day of the Girl

The Taliban, in shooting 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for promoting girls rights, may have done more than any other humanitarian organization could have hoped to do to draw attention to the first International Day of the Girl, on Thursday.

Malala has for years been speaking out in Pakistan against the Taliban’s prohibition on girls’ education. On Tuesday, the Islamists shot her in the head and neck, also wounding several other girls on a school bus. According to the BBC, Malala has so far survived and after surgery to remove the bullet from her head is in stable condition.

The Taliban has already threatened to attack her again with the aim of killing her for her public support of girls’ education. Here is a short documentary the New York Times did a few years ago on Malala Yousafsai and her family:

So Thursday is the day the world is supposed to stand up for girls. Seattle is already pretty big on promoting “girl power” here and around the world.

Many of our local humanitarian organizations specifically work on empowering girls and young women. There was the big “Girl Up” push a few years ago. Global Washington recently sponsored an event called Stand for Girls that brings together a number of organizations working on girls and women’s issues. On Thursday, the Gates Foundation and other members of the Northwest Girls Coalition are sponsoring a number of local events to mark the United Nations’ first International Day of the Girl.

But honestly, these kind of theme days come and go, with varying levels of success when it comes to truly gaining public attention and interest. Simply calling something World (fill-in-the-blank) Day is of debatable value. Today is World Mental Health Day, for example. The practice of proclaiming a day to ‘raise awareness’ for some cause or issue has become so common that now every single day of the year now marks something, or several things.

So maybe we should make this first International Day of the Girl about keeping our eye on just one very brave girl who is on the front line fighting for this cause. Let’s make it about Malala.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.