Today is October 11th — International Day of the Girl. You might be wondering what exactly this day stands for, what it encompasses, why was it started etc…? All those questions are valid, and here is a simple breakdown as to why this day was created by the United Nations (UN) back in 2011. The main goals of this day are to promote and encourage girl’s empowerment, human rights, and day-to-day challenges that girls all over the world face. More specifically, the International Day of the Girl Child is focused on education, equality, and ending child marriage. Through awareness and education, the UN General Assembly is working towards setting up services that provide safe spaces to educate the female youth about puberty and sexual health. This year’s theme is “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.” To build on this year’s theme about girls being unscripted and unstoppable, Just4Girls.pk wanted to recognize a standup young woman in our community: Noorulain Shaikh.
Shaikh is a 22-year-old student, currently attending Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, majoring in Advertising Design. This year, Shaikh entered a competition held by the SZABIST Media Festival, which aimed to showcase the harmful effects of child marriages through infographics and graphic design. The graphic design poster that Shaikh submitted depicted many child brides in the background, with one child in a school uniform in the forefront with the slogan reading ‘‘School Bhejo, Susraal Nahin!” (send them to school, not to in-laws). This simple but hard-hitting message was very well received by SZABIST Media, and they awarded her first place in the competition.
Shaikh’s simple but thought provoking artwork became a viral sensation. Her award winning graphic denouncing child brides and pushing for girl’s educations made its rounds on social media, catching the eye of Mina Kidwai. Kidwai is a social and human well-being enthusiast, and is currently earning a Master’s in Global Social Policy from University of Sheffield. She was so moved by Shaikh’s artwork that she was inspired to write a raw and emotional poem imagining a world with no child brides and an abundance of education. Please read the poem below:
Imagine if it was a universal rule
to have every girl child sent to a school
Imagine if she was given toys and a doll
but also told that, that’s not all
Imagine if she could run, swim and kick
if she had shoulders that could lift a brick
Imagine her joy at a new uniform and bag
if she could just flutter like a shiny bright flag
Imagine if she solved every algebraic equation
and would not shy away from any conservation
Imagine if she was fond of Math and Sciences
and was the key person to form stronger alliances
Imagine if she learnt the laws of Physics
and not just felt suffocated by her domestics
Imagine if she graduated with scores very high
and not set up against dowry for people too sly
Imagine if she really knew all about her puberty
and not told that it was a sign of no more liberty
Imagine the little girl to be a conqueror, a guide
but somebody chose for her to be a child bride
Poem by Mina Kidwai
Just4Girls.pk was also inspired by both Shaikh and Kidwai and wanted to share their powerful work with all our followers. We hope to get these vital messages out to the masses on The International Day of the Girl. We hope that this graphic and poem challenge gender stereotypes, and help girls break free from traditional roles that society has placed on them for generations. We also hope that child marriage is eradicated and that girls have the right to stay in school and live in a safe environment.
Please join us on this International Day of the Girl, let’s stand up and advocate for respect, rights and choices.