A proclamation on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, 2021
The growth and development of the world’s economies, institutions and nations are based on equal rights and opportunities for all girls. Ensuring that girls can reach their full potential is not only a moral imperative, it is also a strategic imperative. The status of women and the peace and prosperity of nations are inextricably linked. When the girls are doing well, we are all doing well. When we invest in girls’ education, our communities are healthier and our economies are stronger. When we empower girls to lead, our peace processes, global health and humanitarian efforts, and climate negotiations are more sustainable and resilient. When we invest in movements led by women and girls, our democracies become more stable and prosperous. On this International Day of the Girl, we are committed to ensuring opportunities and equality for all girls.
Girls in our country and around the world face gender bias and discrimination, subjecting them to adverse circumstances that hamper their security, stability, education and opportunities. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has turned the lives of too many girls around the world upside down, exacerbating disparities and underscoring what we have long known: that in times of crisis, girls – especially girls of color and those from underserved and low-income communities – face disproportionate challenges.
Girls in the United States face entrenched barriers to achieving gender equality. Despite Title IX protections, girls still lack equal opportunities and resources in education and leadership, and gender stereotypes continue to hamper their participation in science education, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), compromising their access to stable and well-paid education. works. Girls’ education is further compromised by the threat of sexual assault, harassment and other forms of gender-based violence, with one in four young women on college campuses now facing sexual assault. Girls of color and girls from underserved communities face long-standing additional disparities. Black girls face disproportionate rates of school discipline and are overrepresented in our juvenile justice system. LGBTQI + girls face high rates of gender-based violence and experience bullying, harassment and abuse online. Transgender girls are increasingly excluded from sports and from equal access to school facilities. Girls with disabilities face inequitable access to education.
Globally, girls face persistent and structural barriers that hamper their full participation. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 130 million girls around the world were out of school, and today 11 million more girls have been forced out of school, compromising economic growth, health and future development. An estimated 33,000 girls are forced into child marriage, early or forced every day, fueling an intergenerational cycle of poverty that is difficult to break. Girls face a range of other challenges, ranging from harmful practices such as female genital cutting to unwanted pregnancies and discriminatory laws and exclusion from civic and political processes to concerns about safety, harassment and sexual assault. Too often, social norms that place a low value on girls’ lives functionally limit their rights and opportunities in public and private life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing public health, economic, political and care crises, which disproportionately impact girls around the world. As health systems become more strained, girls face increased barriers to accessing basic health care. In many parts of the world, those in vulnerable and marginalized communities continue to face challenges in accessing routine childhood immunizations, preventive screening, and sexual and reproductive health services. As schools closed, the burden of care fell on girls around the world, and girls were often much less likely to have access to the devices needed for virtual education due to a global digital gender divide. Many countries have also reported rising rates of gender-based violence, both offline and online, including against women journalists, activists and leaders who are further excluded from critical reconstruction efforts. The mental health of girls – who already face a disproportionately high incidence of anxiety and other mental health issues – is also suffering. We have also seen an increase in emergency room visits by teenage girls across our country for reasons related to self-harm, including suicide attempts. A key part of building back better must be raising the status of girls as we address these shared crises.
On this International Day of the Girl, our nation stands firmly and proudly in its commitment to protect and advance the rights of girls, in all their diversity, both at home and abroad. That’s why, earlier this year, I signed an executive order to establish the White House Gender Policy Council and ensure a whole-of-government approach to advancing gender equity and equality. This month, my administration will release the United States government’s first-ever National Gender Strategy, outlining our vision and priorities for advancing equal opportunities for people of all genders. From tackling gender discrimination in education and preventing gender-based violence offline and online, to increasing pathways to STEM and promoting gender parity and diversity in leadership and democratic processes, my administration will strive to empower girls in all aspects of life. And by recognizing the stresses that gender-based violence places on the lives of millions of girls around the world, we will also develop the first-ever U.S. national action plan on gender-based violence and update the U.S. strategy. United to prevent and respond to gender-based violence around the world.
Our vision for the future is one where every girl can live free from violence, discrimination and prejudice. We are committed to a future where girls can dream boldly and lead with ambition as heads of families, communities, businesses and governments; where their voices are not only heard, but amplified; and where they can lead the charge against the challenges of the 21st century, drive innovation, and compete and succeed in the workforce of the future.
THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by authority conferred on me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, hereby proclaim October 11 2021, Day of the girl. I call on the people of the United States to observe this day with programs, ceremonies and activities that advance equality and opportunity for girls around the world.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have signed this
the eighth day of October in the year of grace two thousand and twenty-one, and of independence of the United States of America on the two hundred and forty-six.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.