This Monday is a day to celebrate all things girls.
On Oct. 11, many municipalities and cities around the globe will honour International Day of the Girl, an annual celebration of girls and their actions, leadership, strengths and accomplishments.
"It's about highlighting, celebrating, discussing and advancing girls' lives and opportunities," said Lesley Hubbard, executive director of Girls Incorporated of Upper Canada.
According to Girls Inc., Monday is not just a day but it's a movement and it's bigger than one issue, one organization, one region or even one country.
Many woman and girls face different issues throughout their lifetime, and International Day of the Girl can be used to speak about those. Many girls are denied opportunities and face barriers in many different areas, face a gender-based pay-gap where a female's earnings may be less than their male counterparts.
Many also face sexual violence and harassment, and self-confidence issues, explained Hubbard.
"International Day of the Girl is the one day in the year where girls are on centre stage and we think that's such an important place for girls to be because so often they are in the background or sort of a secondary thought," said Hubbard.
The network of local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations serves girls ages six to 18 and focuses on the development of the whole girl, supporting, mentoring and guiding girls in a supportive environment, according to the Girls Inc. of Upper Canada website.
International Day of the Girl has been celebrated around the globe annually since 2012.
According to the Canadian Women's Foundation, 67 per cent of Canadians know a woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse. And Statistics Canada stated that women who work in Canada earned an average of 76.8 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2019; they noted that it doesn't account for the fact full time working women tend to work fewer hours than men, often because of family responsibilities.
Many municipalities have proclaimed or will proclaim Monday as the Day of the Girl, including North Grenville, Gananoque, Westport, and Front of Yonge. Prescott and Merrickville-Wolford have proclaimed the day as well, while Augusta said it will be this coming week at the next council meeting.
"Our community is so blessed to have a wide variety of strong women leaders and by recognizing International Day of the Girl we foster awareness for the role that women play and the potential girls and young women have," said North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford.
Many people believe that everything is OK now, and girls and women are legally allowed to do most things, but it doesn’t mean that equity actually exists and there's a conversation that needs to be had, said Hubbard.
It's also important for girls to see that they're valued, and the municipalities proclaiming the day sends that message, added Hubbard.
"It's an important issue to ensure that not only in Gananoque but in Canada and around the world that we recognize that there needs to be equity for women and girls," said Gananoque Mayor Ted Lojko.
(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times