Recently I was rereading Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and discussing it with a group of college Freshmen. For those unfamiliar, “Girl” is a powerful prose where the protagonist is listing a series of duties and responsibilities to her daughter, with the understanding that should she be able to do those things adequately, only then she would be considered a woman. The essay was published in The New Yorker in 1978, and almost 40 years later many of the same words can still be heard being bellowed to adolescent girls today.
This is how you behave in the presence of men you don’t know very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I’ve warned you against becoming.”– Jamaica Kincaid, Girl
The adolescent girl faces unique challenges, some more than others depending on where in the world they reside. They are being raised and shaped to be everything society believes they should be, except themselves. Surprisingly in 2017, many of them are still unable to have access to proper education or safe autonomy over their own bodies. There are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today and that’s a powerhouse in itself. Given the opportunity young women can change the world as leaders, free-thinkers and dreamers. But they need to survive the world in order to change it. The focus should be less on a list of roles that makes one a woman, and more on on eradicating draconian laws and ideologies that limits a young girl’s potential.
The International Day of the Girl’s (Day of the Girl) 2017 theme is “The Power of the adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.” By 2030 we hope to be able to highlight and rectify the daily challenges young women face just by merely existing in some societies. They have distinct needs more and more we need to push for heavier investments into to these needs.
This International Day of the Girl, join the movement and lend your voice to the fight to promote the power of the adolescent girl.