Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 9:19 pm | Fair 55º


Recognizing and Empowering Our Girls on ‘International Day of the Girl’

Girls’ rights are often considered someone else’s issue. As we are inundated with news stories and reports about the horrors girls face around the world, we often forget to look at what is going on in the U.S. 

Three years ago, the United Nations declared October 11 International Day of the Girl to address the lack of attention on girls’ rights and the challenges they face.

On this day, we come together under the same goal, to highlight, discuss and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls. This year’s theme is, “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.”

As this day approaches, we look at the challenges facing girls at home and what can be done to address them.

Consider that 1 in 4 girls in the U.S. will not finish high school, 3 in 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20, and 1 in 5 girls will be a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

There are also challenges to girls’ self-esteem, including poor body image and gender stereotypes. Yet, with the right support and guidance, girls can overcome barriers and beat the odds.   

At our local Girls Inc. affiliates in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, girls are educated and supported in a positive and safe environment that nurtures their potential to be great. Girls build confidence to express themselves and find their voice.

Our goal is for girls to not only advocate for themselves but for others as well. Teaching girls to lead allows them to be part of the solution.

When you ask a group of teenagers to describe a leader, what image comes to mind? For many, that person is male. Girls Inc. helps girls rethink leadership and their role in creating change.  
The Girls Inc. Bill of Rights emphasizes the inherent strength and ability of girls to be change agents in their own lives, as well as their families, and communities.

Girls Inc. helps girls both realize their own power as community resources and use their voice to promote positive change. Giving girls the confidence and skills to become leaders allows them to more fully participate in their futures and grow up healthy, educated and independent.  

During last month’s UN General Assembly, President Obama released a statement saying that “empowered women and educated girls are critical to achieving lasting peace, security and prosperity.”

That holds true globally nationally, and right here in Santa Barbara County. As we commemorate International Day of the Girl, let us renew a shared commitment to expanding opportunities for girls to learn, lead and succeed. 

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara invites the community to its annual Celebration Luncheon honoring women and girls in STEAM fields Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, at the Bacara Resort & Spa.

Visit www.girlsincsb.org for details and tickets.  

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria invites the community to its biggest annual fundraiser, An Evening in Bloom, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, at Westerlay Gardens.

Visit www.girlsinc-carp.org for details and tickets.

— Victoria Juarez is the executive director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria and Tracy Jenkins is the interim CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara.

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