Education International
Education International

Educators celebrate International Day of the Girl Child 2016

published 11 October 2016 updated 13 October 2016

As each year on October 11th, Education International highlights girls’ lives across the world, celebrates girls’ achievements, and also shines the spotlight on the issues that continue to hold far too many girls back.

This year’s theme is ‘Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What counts for Girls’, highlighting the need to ensure that priority issues in the lives of the world’s girls are front and centre in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Education International (EI) member organisations are also working hard to ensure governments live up the promises they made, having just marked the first anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) in September 2015; especially the promise to ‘ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning’ ( SDG 4).

However, for EI affiliates, this is also a day to acknowledge girls’ own efforts to empower themselves, and to make their own voices heard, too often, when it seems no-one else will speak up for them. In our own sector, Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai has set the highest standard for girl activists defending their human right to education.

Malala is in the good company of other young activists who have been taking up the torch for girls’ rights in the other regions of the world:


Liza Yaroshenko is the Ukraine’s youngest campaigner for the provision of affordable anti-retroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS sufferers in her country. Her own mother died of AIDS when she was just 6 years old, and Liza learned about her own positive status. She was fortunate enough to become one of the first to receive anti-retroviral drugs in the Ukraine; at age 13, she faced the Ukrainian Parliament to call for an increased budget to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS.

Latin America

Elba Graciela Velásquez Hernández is a 16-year-old indigenous girl activist from Guatemala, working to ensure girls in her community can access quality education, as well as quality health services.

Middle East and North Africa

Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan rapper and activist who grew up in Teheran, after her family fled the war in her county.  After narrowly escaping her own marriage at the age of 16, Sonita decided to use her talent and skills as a rapper to highlight the issue of child marriage, which is one of the biggest barriers to girls’ education in her country (and in far too many other countries across the world).

Sub-Saharan Africa

Zulaikha Patel is a 13 year-old South African girl from Pretoria, who was at the forefront of a girls’ high school protest to end the ban on African girls attending school with their natural afro hair un-straightened. The Pretoria students’ protest became nationwide in a matter of days, and eventually led to the school withdrawing the ban on natural afro hair.

North America

At the age of 12, Madison Kimrey, from North Carolina, USA, started a petition to protest the elimination of voter pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds in her home-state. Her activism continues today, as she speaks up to encourage her teenage peers to hold political decision-makers accountable to their electorates; she is a passionate advocate for young people’s voting rights.

Click here to view and read about‘We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World’, a film about girls from all over the world overcoming incredible odds to access quality education.