By MICHELE McKENNA
Many thanks to the Oak Harbor City Council for proclaiming Oct. 11, 2012 as Day of the Girl in Oak Harbor!
It’s true that both men and women live in poverty, face discrimination and must overcome obstacles. But throughout history — in every country in the world — women and girls face additional obstacles and discrimination solely because of their gender.
Gender discrimination often begins at a young age — in some cases even before birth — and girl children are devalued and discriminated against throughout the world. In many cultures, girls are considered to have little or no value, and therefore poor families often opt not to educate their female children. Without an education, women are less likely to find sustaining work at a living wage, and are more likely to remain poor throughout their lifetimes.
The United Nations General Assembly Resolution which declared Oct. 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child is about highlighting, celebrating, discussing and advancing girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe. Through raising awareness of the struggles girls encounter daily, we can, together, take steps to diminish these obstacles and develop leadership opportunities so that girls can reach their full potential and live their dreams.
Empowered girls can transform their own lives and communities, and their empowerment is therefore one of the best antidotes to global poverty. By initiating club projects that benefit and empower women and girls and by encouraging and recognizing girls who are involved in volunteering that betters their community, Soroptimist clubs and members around the world improve the status of women and girls. Soroptimist projects and programs aid women and girls economically, and empower them to make positive changes in their lives and their communities. Our mission is to have every girl in the world feel a sense of pride and dignity and know that they have a valued and important role to play.
The proclamation of Oct. 11 as Day of the Girl in Oak Harbor provides a clear statement from the city on its priorities and perspectives and helps create a foundation for advocacy and recognition from which social movements for change can grow. It shows that this community acknowledges girls’ rights as a priority issue, and that girls’ voices are of importance and relevance. We are proud the city of Oak Harbor has contributed to making girls visible and hope that as all our daughters, granddaughters and nieces grow up they will be able to celebrate this day every year and the impact it will continue to have on girls’ lives around the world. On behalf of all the members of Soroptimist International of Oak Harbor, we thank you very much!
Michele McKenna is president of Soroptimist International
of Soroptimist Internationalof Oak Harbor.