The International Day of the Girl Child (Oct. 11) is a global observance declared by the United Nations to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
The Day of the Girl also focuses attention on the challenges girls face, like violence, education inequality and child marriage. For the millions of girls in countries prone to conflict and crisis, these challenges are especially formidable. When women and girls lack power in their homes and communities, every shock—whether armed conflict, drought, flood or COVID-19—inevitably affects them differently than others. 

Oct. 11: The most challenging places to be a girl in 2021

On Oct. 11, the Day of the Girl, International Rescue Committee (IRC) experts will call attention to the five most challenging places to grow up a girl today. Our analysis is based on the lives of girls and the expertise of our staff working directly with girls around the world. 

10-year-old Heba looks at the camera. She wears a red head band and green cardigan.
On the Day of the Girl 2021, we focus attention on the challenges girls face and celebrate the resilience of girls like Heba, 10, whose family was uprooted from their home by the war in Syria.
Photo: Khaled Idlbe/IRC

How the IRC supports girls to build a brighter future

At the IRC, we work to protect girls and empower them to change their own lives and communities. To do that, we’re working to help break down each of the barriers faced by women and girls in crisis hot spots:

In the spotlight: Girl Shine

Nurta smiles at the camera.
Nurta, a teenage girl living in Helowyn refugee camp in Ethiopia, is learning leadership skills through the IRC's Girl Shine programme. She says, "I can do anything boys can do."

Photo: Martha Tadesse/IRC

Our Girl Shine programme, which supports adolescent girls as they navigate into adulthood, is a good example of the IRC’s approach. We work with girls to educate them about their rights, help them make healthy choices, protect them from violence, and teach them to be leaders. Through the programme, girls build important life skills, including decision-making and developing trust and friendships. 

Girl Shine is based on the long experience and knowledge gathered through the IRC’s women’s protection and empowerment efforts and reflects the latest research findings on the experiences of adolescent girls in countries affected by crisis. The IRC’s Girl Shine programme materials have been shared widely and are available for other organisations to use so that as many girls as possible worldwide have the support and tools they need to build a brighter future. 

Learn more

Learn more about our work to protect and empower women and girls. Check back on Oct. 11, the Day of the Girl, for our update on the most challenging places to grow up a girl in 2021.