International Day of the Girl Child Focuses on Potential Successes by Marilyn Ostermiller

Of the 7.8 billion people who populate this world, 1.1 billion are girls. That’s equivalent to the population of the United States and every country in Europe.

Those girls have the potential to grow up to change the world.

The International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated annually on October 11, was established by the United Nations eight years ago to call attention to girl’s rights and the unique challenges they face around the world.

Three factors that will boost their chances for success:

  • Getting a secondary education
  • Eating nutritious foods
  • Learning about family planning

Helping girls overcome those challenges could change the world. According to the Malala Fund, if all girls attended school for 12 years, low and middle income countries could add $92 billion to their economies annually. Malala Fund is an international, non-profit organization that fights for girls’ education. It was co-founded by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, and her father, Ziauddin.

The difficulties surrounding the mission to fight for the rights of girls around the world has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Among the international organizations seeking help through donations and volunteer efforts to provide opportunities for girls to be educated and healthy are:


  • Plan International, an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.
  • UNICEF, sponsored by the United Nations, org

There are ways to participate in locally as well. Often, schools and after school organizations are open to volunteers willing to mentor a girl or to participate in school activities focused on women leaders. advances equity in education by giving teachers and schools access to the resources they need.

Several recently published children’s books about women leaders can inspire girls. Among them:

STEADFAST: Frances Perkins, Champion of WorkersRights, by Author/illustrator Jennifer J. Merz. When Frances witnessed New York City’s terrifying Triangle Factory fire in 1911, her desire to assist the American worker transformed into a lifelong mission.

STEADFAST: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics, by Laurie Wallmark and Yevgenia Nayberg. The story of Sophie’s journey to become the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics.

Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics

She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game,by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Bolger, features 13 women athletes who overcame obstacles and inspired.

She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game



Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, by Vashti Harrison. The true stories of 35 women creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists.

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World (Vashti Harrison)

 International Day of the Girl Child

Celebrated October 11 Sponsored by UNICEF

How to participate:

  • Become a mentor
  • Donate school supplies
  • Educate girls about past and present women leaders through schools and other public forums.

 Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who now writes about children’s issues, family activities and food.