International Day of the Girl Child

“On International Day of the Girl Child, let us recommit to supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential. ”
(UN Secretary-General António Guterres)

Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

2018 theme: With Her: A Skilled GirlForce
Today’s generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed or in education or training.
Of the 1 billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.
On 11 October, International Day of the Girl, we are working alongside all girls to expand existing learning opportunities, chart new pathways and calling on the global community to rethink how to prepare them for a successful transition into the world of work.
Under the theme, With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, International Day of the Girl will mark the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.

• Over 60 million girls worldwide are forced into marriage before the age of 18
• 125 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C)
• 1.2 million children are being trafficked each year – many of these children are girls forced into sex trafficking
• Pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women aged 15 to 19
• Literacy rates for girls in many countries remain low – just 12% of Afghan women aged 15 and over are literate

Prayer: For girl children in the world, especially those subjected to discrimination and abuse; that their human dignity and equality be recognised, protected and valued by people everywhere as we acknowledge the International Day of the Girl Child.

Unfortunately, in many countries and cultures the girl child carries negative images of discrimination and abusive treatment, for they are devalued by countless years of superstitious beliefs and misinformation. Those born into the world risk death in infancy, either through murder, abuse, neglect or sickness. If they survive to the age of five, they may face servitude, irrational submission, childbearing, brokenness, exploitation, violence, sexual abuse and discrimination. The illogical and ignorant reason is that she is a girl.
Cultures that believe that the girl child is inferior to the boy child subject her to strangling, drowning, abortion, and deny her the basic rights of childhood. Girls face and experience discrimination, sexual stereotypes, rejection, devaluation, and violence, often at the hands of the people closest to them, whom they look up to, love and trust the most.
We want to pray for the girl child who is
Abused – those who suffer female genital mutilation, are forced into marriage and child bearing while they are still children; sold or bonded into labour.
O God of Love, embrace these children that they may feel that they belong and are accepted within their family, community and culture.
Neglected. Those uncared for, deprived of proper meals and health care. Left to fend for themselves in the slums or the streets
Lord Jesus, lay your hands on these children, bring them to yourself that they may hear and understand how you value and love them; for to them belong the kingdom of heaven.
Sexually Exploited. Since their families are unable to care for them they are often forced into becoming soldiers’ “wives,” or “trophies”, temple “wives” or forced into prostitution and/or early marriages.
God of justice and truth, stop all the people and mechanisms that sexually exploit and traffic girls and liberate these girls to live in the freedom of the children of God.
Lacking Education – Discrimination and poverty deprive many girls of an education which keeps them in poor health, restricts their prospects to a brighter future and traps them in the poverty cycle.
O God of unity and truth, we pray that all peoples and all cultures may view the girl child as your precious creation and through the knowledge of your word understand that all belong to you through Jesus, your Son and are one in him; that all prejudices against another human be completely eradicated.
Rejected: Those whose birth bring disappointment and sadness and are viewed as a burden to society.
O God, send forth your light and your truth to all families gifted with the girl child that they may rejoice at every gift of life. That every girl who feels rejected may experience restoration of her dignity and self-worth and be emotionally strengthened to live life to the full.

God of all life, you created every girl in your image and likeness. Pour out your love on them who even today feel less than human because of their background or culture. Give them your protection and loving care. May all the people in their lives show them acceptance and treasure them as your gift to their family, community, society and the world. Assure them with signs of your love and lift them up in hope of a better future and lead them out of their prisons of condemnation into the freedom of your beloved children. We also remember the privileged girl child, that they may live their lives in gratitude and integrity, caring and sharing their blessings with the disadvantaged, the marginalised and the troubled through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: RGS, Malaysia Singapore

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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