The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Last Saturday, October 11, was International Day of the Girl. Just two years ago, the UN established this commemorative day to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality for young women and children around the world. The day is used as an opportunity for activist groups to come together with the goal of highlighting, discussing, and taking action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.
Education is crucial for the empowerment and emancipation of women and girls, yet also a realm in which we see vast discrepancies between genders. In many culture, the false view persists that it is more beneficial to send a son to school than a daughter because the son will stay in the family, and the daughter will eventually leave to join her husband’s family. This practice reinforces gender stereotypes that a woman belongs at home.
Education can have a transformational effect on girls and these communities, introducing them to new ways of thinking, drastically reducing child marriage, and increasing the survival rate of their own children. Additionally, a girl who has completed basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV. Many organizations and individuals have dedicated their efforts to improving girls’ education. One such individual is Malala Yousafzai.
In 2012, at the age of 15, Malala was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban for voicing her passion for education. The Taliban targeted her because she had “become a symbol of Western culture in the area [and] was openly propagating it.” The shooting was meant to kill her, and was meant to be a lesson to others in Pakistan. Fortunately, Malala survived and went on to write an autobiography and continue to speak out for education.
Just last week, Malala became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17. Proud and honored to receive the award, Malala explained that “this is not the end, this is not the end of my campaign, this is the beginning.” As we celebrate Simchat Torah this week and the completion of our annual reading of the Torah, we are reminded that not everyone in our world is educated or free to read the books of their choosing, and like Malala, we must continue to fight for education, and for girls, everywhere.