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GSOFCT CEO letter to the editor: Join me in celebrating International Day of the Girl Child

Today, we acknowledge International Day of the Girl Child. Since 2012, the world has celebrated this day to highlight global progress in female achievement and raise up issues regarding the unique needs of girls and special challenges that they face to thrive and succeed in our complex world today. 

While we celebrate many advances that girls and women have made in society, our social climate today also includes conversations ranging from sexual harassment and aggression to gender boundaries, body safety, and gender equity. Because of this, girls and young women may view these headlines too and find themselves uncertain with the state of our nation and the perception of their value.

Since 1912, Girl Scouts has put the well-being of girls at the forefront. For over 106 years, we have provided the best leadership experience for girls. Our founder Juliette Gordon Low was ahead of her time, and eight years before suffrage, she created a global movement to make the world better for girls. The goal was to “level the playing field,” so girls could get outside and ride horses, play basketball, and even wear pants. Sadly, as we view the world today, the “playing field” is still not level and we are engaged in very difficult dialogue about the status and value of women. 

At Girl Scouts of Connecticut, where we serve over 26,000 girls ages 5-17, we have been dedicated to putting every ounce of passion and energy into ensuring a bright and fair future for girls. Through our research-based Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) we give girls the tools they need to empower themselves for life, to become engaged and productive citizens and to seek their dreams and ambitions with confidence.

We understand that before we can effectively address the challenges that girls face, we must first connect with all girls in a relevant and authentic way, one that speaks to acknowledging—and overcoming—their adversity. To cite just a few sobering statistics, according to The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends, research released by the Girl Scout Research Institute, in 2015, 19 percent of girls ages 5-17 lived in poverty, compared to 17 percent in 2007. In 2015, 23 percent of high school girls seriously considered suicide (23%) compared with 19 percent of girls in 2007. 

The greater truth is this: We cannot hope to flourish as a society by dismissing the promise and potential represented in half of our population. Girls represent a vital and underutilized resource of remarkable potential that must be harnessed to the full benefit of humanity. We cannot continue to let our girls down. We want to empower a generation of confident women who will work in partnership with men to make the world a better place for us all.

Now, more than ever, our nation needs to come together to invest in girls. At Girl Scouts, we believe that girls need to light the way to a successful future. Whatever your role—parent, educator, relative, mentor, legislator—it is time to ensure that girls are not being left behind. They need us. Please celebrate this International Day of the Girl Child with a promise to help a girl find her spark and fulfill her dreams.

Yours in Girl Scouting,