On December 19, 2011, The United Nations General Assembly voted to designate October 11th as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. The day is designated to promote girls’ human right, draw attention to gender inequalities still present between girls and boys and to addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the globe.
United Nations many agencies have come together to focus on child marriage, which is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life. Globally, more than one in three young women aged 20-24 years were married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15.
At a personal level, I do not know if I would have ever focused on the issue of girl´s human rights at a global level, had it not been for Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot by Taliban gunman in the head because she said that young girls have a right to be educated in her native Swat Valley region of Pakistan. Militant Taliban forces oppose education for girls. Thankfully she survived the attack after intense medical treatment.
Malala is known around the world simply by her first name. She has become the face of young girls everywhere. Malala recently told the BBC in an interview that “The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue.” British Prime Minister David Cameron describer her “an icon of courage and hope.”
I read recently that her hope is to enter politics and influence the future of her country. One of her aspirations is to help make education compulsory and to insure that every boy and every girl attends school.
There is no doubt that we take so much for granted in this country, while so many in the world, in different regions and under different forms of government, are still suffering with repression and instability.
Malala is considered to be a contender for this year´s Nobel Peace Prize. If a winner, she would join the likes of Nelson Mandela.
As a father, as a lawyer, and as a citizen of the World, I applaud the international community’s embrace of this young woman´s cause. Her dreams and aspirations for a better world for children everywhere impact each and every one of us. As my generation passes the mantle of leadership to the next, world peace will be well served by educated and involved men and women.
I am Attorney Martin E. Regan, Jr. and these are my personal thoughts.