10/11/2013 12:29 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

How October 11 Became Day of the Girl

It's an alarming statistic that 66-million girls are out of school globally, and that there are 33-million fewer girls than boys in primary school. Back in September 2009, Plan Canada's Because I am a Girl initiative launched an online petition advocating for a Day of the Girl. They fiercely believed there was an urgent need to stand up for girl's rights, as they face unique barriers to survival and development like early and forced marriage, domestic slavery, lack of access to healthcare and education. They were, and continue to be, 100 per cent right.

Enforcing basic human rights for millions of girls would mean they would be six times less likely to be married as children, have 2.2 fewer, yet healthier, children, and if they attend school can raise a countries GDP. The overarching belief is that investing in girls is a key to eliminating poverty and creating a safer and brighter future for everyone.

The Girl Effect, created by the Nike Foundation used these statistics below to point out that an investment in girls is one that the world can't afford to overlook:

• In India, adolescent pregnancy results in nearly $10 billion in lost potential income per year

• In Uganda, 85 per cent of girls leave school early, resulting in $10 billion in lost potential earnings

• By delaying child marriage and early birth for one million girls in Bangladesh, the country could potentially add $69 billion to the national income over these girls' lifetimes

"It has been shown that an educated girl will reinvest 90 per cent of her future income in her family, compared with 35 per cent for a boy. And yet 250-million adolescent girls live in poverty and are more likely than boys to be uneducated, to be married at a young age, and to be exposed to HIV/AIDS. Today, less than two cents of every international development dollar goes to girls -- the very people who could do the most to end poverty. As long as girls remain invisible, the world misses out on a tremendous opportunity for change." -- from the Girl Effect website -- Why girls? Why not boys too?

Over the course of two years, Because I am a Girl battled through levels of Parliament, eventually presenting them with a petition signed by 15,000 people and in December 2011, the United Nations chose October 11 as "International Day of the Girl." The theme of this year's observance is "Innovating for Girls' Education," which recognizes the need for, "...fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls' education forward." - from the United Nations website -- Theme for 2013: Innovating of Girls' Education.

So how can you help?

One thing that we're doing at GoVoluntouring is screening the film Girl Rising within our local community. The film is part of a global action campaign for girls' education, using the power of storytelling to drive change. Other ideas include hosting an awareness day/week at your company or school, holding an event or fundraiser that supports the movement, mentoring a girl within your community, committing to a long-term project or volunteer trip.

You could also consider donating to an organization that supports girls. Below is a short list of organizations that have effective programs that assist with girls' education but there are more options on,, and

"Empowering girls, ensuring their human rights and addressing the discrimination and violence they face are essential to progress for the whole human family. One of the best ways to achieve all of these goals is to provide girls with the education they deserve." - Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General.

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