Happy International Day of the Girl!

I thought I couldn’t love this song any more but apparently that’s only because I hadn’t yet see it paired with images of adorable girls from around the world.

The theme of this second annual UN International Day of the Girl is education. The UN notes,

The fulfilment of girls’ right to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves: it is the one consistent positive determinant of practically every desired development outcome, from reductions in mortality and fertility, to poverty reduction and equitable growth, to social norm change and democratization.

Important stuff, though I think it’s a little bit hard for folks who’ve had the privilege of taking their education for granted to fully grasp how integral it is to the fight for gender equality. I mean, let’s be honest, there are other rights that seem a bit more “sexy” than the right to education.

That’s partly why I think Malala Yousafzai’s story has so successfully captured the popular imagination. By shooting a teenager in the head, and continuing to threaten her, the Taliban demonstrated–far more powerfully than any dry UN resolution ever could–exactly why girl’s education is so important: it is dangerous to the patriarchy. 

It would have been fitting if  Malala had won the Nobel Peace Prize today. She didn’t–though she did snag the European Sakharov prize–and the Taliban is “delighted” about her loss since “she did nothing big.” As Katie noted yesterday, if the Taliban is rooting against you, that’s a good sign you deserve a medal. And as long as those invested in the status quo are so profoundly threatened by the idea of girls’ education, you know it’s an incredibly critical fight.

See further reading at the UN, watch Malala on The Daily Show, read the Girl Effect’s “Girl Declaration,” and check out a bunch of girls who are changing the world and dreaming big across the globe.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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