Girl dancing with earbuds

I know a lot of amazing women, but in my life, nothing inspires or awes me quite as much as my eight-year-old daughter. She is strong and creative and full of wonder and doesn’t think that anything in the world can stand in her way. But not all girls are in a situation where they feel that sense of empowerment and I even fear that my own fearless girl will have her spirit kicked around as she learns the ways of the world.

Earlier this week I was listening to the radio and heard an interview with Malala Yousafzai, the amazing teenage education activist who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban as a punishment for her advocacy for girls’ education in her homeland of Pakistan. As I was telling my daughter about how brave Malala is and how she’s short listed for the Nobel Peace Prize (which will be announced today), I was struck by two things: how girls, even young girls, can do such amazing things, but also how distressing it is that we live in a world where girls like Malala need to stand up for other young ladies who are not permitted to live up to their full potential.

Today (October 11) is the International Day of the Girl Child. The day was first declared by the United Nations in 2011, after a resolution was proposed by Canada’s then Minister for the Status of Women, Rona Ambrose. The initiative’s mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” This year’s theme, appropriately enough for Malala’s story, is “Innovating for Girls’ Education.”

So, what can you do today to mark the Day of the Girl? Talk to your kids (both boys and girls!) about what challenges women face in Canada and around the world. Tell them about Malala and her amazing story. Download a toolkit from this website to get some ideas of how you can get the word out. But most of all, celebrate your own daughter or the other girls in your life by applauding them for their own special abilities. After all, it’s her day.