October 11 is recognized as International Day of the Girl, a day that highlights the challenges girls face while promoting their empowerment, fulfillment, and human rights. 

As described by the United Nations, the theme reflects how “girls are moving from dreaming to achieving.…As entrepreneurs, innovators, and initiators of global movements, girls are leading and fostering a world that is relevant for them and future generations.…The global community must create more opportunities for girls’ voices to be heard and safe spaces for their participation in decision-making, as leading change for girls is all our responsibility.”

What a wonderful call to action for Ashley Hall girls and girls around the world.

Ashley Hall’s Head of School Jill Muti shared her thoughts on the significance of this day in an editorial that was published in the October 11, 2019 issue of The Post and Courier newspaper. The letter is reprinted below. 

October 11 is International Day of the Girl. Today, supporters around the world will honor  achievements by, with, and for girls since the 1995 adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a watershed document to manifest global female empowerment. While many will happily celebrate the occasion, others will question the need of designating a special day just for girls. The question is particularly poignant to me as the leader of an all-girls’ school, as I am constantly asked what makes single gender education relevant and even necessary today.

The fact of the matter is that despite our best intentions, the world remains an unlevel playing field for girls. As early as age six, girls are susceptible to gender bias and can be persuaded to see boys as being more intelligent and better leaders, a devastating thought cycle that can create repercussions that echo throughout life. As The New York Times notes, “Academic studies and countless anecdotes make it clear that being interrupted, talked over, shut down or penalized for speaking out is nearly a universal experience for women when they are outnumbered by men.”

If we say girls matter, truly believe in their inherent equality and worth in relation to boys, then we must also foster environments where girls can flourish. Statistics show that from their earliest days in the classroom, girls who are given the encouragement to excel in all fields and who are not limited by biased perceptions tend to far outperform their peers. According to the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, 93 percent of girls’ school grads say they were offered greater leadership opportunities than peers at coed schools, and girls’ school grads are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology compared to girls who attend coed schools. Giving girls the space to grow and the respect to be heard is the first step in building a foundation of confidence.

While I strongly advocate for girls’ schools, my first allegiance is to an even higher calling—the empowerment of all girls, everywhere. Across the globe, all girls deserve the opportunity to be heard, to be valued, and to stand equal with their male counterparts. The International Day of the Girl matters because we must show that all girls matter, not just on October 11, but every day, every year. I hope you will join me today in recognizing the challenging, yet deeply rewarding work yet to come and celebrating a vision of lasting equality.