For all the sexism that still exists in Australia – in our legal system that believes a victim’s outfit made someone break the law, in our workplaces where telling HR that your boss grabbed your arse hurts your career more than it hurts his, and in our media, which is the main focus of this blog – I feel very fortunate to be living here.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep kicking and screaming for true equality, and it also doesn’t mean that Western feminists are letting down their sisters overseas when they focus on problems at home. It just means that through absolutely no effort on my part, I was born in Australia.
Today is the International Day of the Girl. At least, it could be if we make it happen. Plan Australia has a petition to take to the Government, asking for September 22 to be the National Day of the Girl. India has one. Bangladesh has one. And if we have one then we’re one step closer to the UN declaring September 22 as the International Day of the Girl.
This is not about “reverse sexism”. This is about the fact that in Afghanistan, mothers are “failures” if they have daughters but not sons, and 87% of women are illiterate. This is about the fact that in India, girls can have battery acid thrown in their faces as revenge for turning down a date. This is about the fact that rape is a weapon of war. This is about the fact that in Yemen, pregnancy is the leading cause of death in 14-19 year old girls. This is about the fact that at any one time, 2.5 million people from 127 countries are being trafficked around the world, and almost half are children. This is about the fact that in London, twisted fuckheads will pay £50,000 to have sex with a 13-year-old virgin. This is about the fact that 100-140 million women and girls alive today have had their genitals mutilated for no medical reason.
Plan has released their 2010 Because I am a Girl report:
Plan recognises that discrimination against girls and women is one of the main underlying causes of child poverty. Girls and boys have the same entitlements to human rights, but they face different challenges in accessing them. Girls are more likely to be pulled out of school, have less access to medical care, and are often fed less. They also experience more violence and sexual harassment just because they are girls.
This lack of opportunity and care is unfair and unjust. Yet investing in girls and young women has a disproportionately beneficial effect in alleviating poverty for everyone; for the girls themselves, for their families, communities and entire countries.
It’s tough reading – girls living in slums have to choose between going to the toilet in a plastic bag or risk being raped if they go outside to the toilet. But please, sign the petition because we have to start somewhere, right?