International Day of the Girl: A world without women is a world that wouldn't exist

A girl holding a sign that says "respect my existence or expect resistance"

All around the world, girls like Kamogelo are demanding their rights. The world is listening. This Day Of The Girl (Oct 11) join us by giving a shout out or writing a letter to a girl who inspires you: a young leader, a family member, an influencer, your best friend or even yourself as a teen! 

"I've had the pleasure of witnessing 3 generations of women in my family. Through their grace, through their strength and through their ability to rise above the waves, they raised me to have the same qualities. So as I write this today, I want to reflect on what they have taught me about being a woman in this world.

Some of my earliest memories are with my late great grandmother. Her care and love for me are some of the first things that I remember witnessing as a child. How she’d make me tea in the morning in a special little cup for me to drink it in, so we could sit together outside watching the new day begin, as the people in our village took their cows and sheep to graze and in the background was the sound of the chickens ready to be let out. It was that kind of care and tenderness that I needed at 4 years old to know what I wanted for the world.

My grandmother raised 3 girls. She managed to do that even when all odds were against her. Sometimes with only around R60 a month (around $3,55) , she somehow found a way to raise them, and give them all that they needed to be the best that they can be. My mother inherited that, and has done the same for me. She is one of the strongest women I know. She’s always been there to pick me up and dust me off when I fall, and always, no matter what, tells me to try again. She’s my biggest supporter and constantly reminds me to live to be happy, and to be happy to be alive.

These are the women that inspire me. Our world has been known to breed women that are remarkable beyond compare and my family has been no exception. Even when all odds are against them, they’ve found a way. They told the world "no, I am greater that what you think of me. I am greater than all you've given me". Till this day, they birth incredible girls who have taken their best qualities and multiplied them as the generations have gone on. 

So to the world, I ask this question. Why can’t you show that kind of love, care and dedication for girls? The impact women had in this world is often lost amidst the writings and stories, but I find it important to bring it back, and once we understand women’s impact in this world, we would realize that we’d be nowhere without them. 

So, what does it mean to be a woman? I'm hoping the answer to that will be more simple in the years to come. The world isn't always kind. But everyday, as a girl child, I learn more and more that the answer to that question isn't clear, and frankly I don’t know if it will ever be. Womanhood, from what I've witnessed is so multifaceted that I think putting a label on it would be limiting. What I do know for sure is that to be a woman means learning from a young age that you are capable and that you are deserving. The world needs us. We've seen what the power of coming together to demand better has done. We need to take advantage of that power now more than ever. 

My dream for the future is one that sees the divinity of women as much as I do. My whole life, I've been led by women through storms. To me, they've always been a symbol of undying grace and resilience, and I know I'm not the only one that has had the pleasure of witnessing this. Girls deserve the same grace from the world. Girls deserve to dream. Girls deserve to run free with no limitations. We deserve the world to show us kindness. We deserve the world to show us what it means to feel safe. To show us the love that it has been shown by women. 

International Day of the Girl not only celebrates girls around the world, but recognizes the struggles we face on a daily basis. The future I dream about is one where no girl is left behind. Girls' dreams deserve devotion. Girls' dreams deserve to become true. It’s not impossible, we just don’t want it enough. Basic human rights should never be a debate, and often, girls find themselves in positions where theirs are arguments. 

A future I dream of is one where girls aren’t only told that they are incredible, they are given the opportunities and resources to become just that. A future where girls step up to the podium to introduce themselves as presidents, lawyers, engineers, professors, artists, and award winning actresses and models. We are more than capable. The world just needs to want equality bad enough! 

Revolutions take millions. If every one of us makes the conscious decision today to actively work to support girls around the world, change will have no choice but to happen. The same way it takes a stone to create waves in a pool of water is the same way it starts with us to make a world we so passionately speak of."

Illustration by Ina Gouveia @inagouveia
South Africa