I literally never stop talking about gender justice issues. I’m a passionate advocate for championing girls. In fact, my job/ministry/calling is literally helping to turn up the volume of Gospel of hope for girls. But yes, you read the title correctly.

I don’t want an International Day of the Girl.

What? Why? How come?

‘I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it.  That’s what I want. That’s all I want’ – Amos 5:24 (The Message).

I want to live in a culture that celebrates and champions girls (and boys) every single day of the year – not just one day out of 365. But the reality is that this is not the world that we live in, as these statistics from Plan International demonstrate:

I am more likely to not be able to read and write because I am a girl.

65 million girls are missing from classrooms across the world – yes, 65 million.

Because I am a girl, my wedding will probably not be the happiest day of my life.

Every three seconds, another girl is forced to marry someone she doesn’t want to.

I am more likely not to have a choice about where and when my first sexual experience happens- because I am a girl.

One hundred and fifty million girls across the world have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence before they reach 18 years old. Girls are exposed to sexual violence as they walk to school, go to the toilet, socialise with friends and even in their own homes.

I am more likely to be missing from the face of the earth because I am a girl.

Around 113 to 200 million girls and women are simply missing across the world due to violence, trafficking, neglect or because they have never even been given the chance to be born.

And it’s not just girls in countries far away who feel limited. This week, some of the UK’s leading Christian voices advocating for girls’ voices to be heard, have been taking over threads.  They’ve been helping to amplify the voice of girls in the UK on issues like body image and gender stereotypes [see Monday and Tuesday’s articles].

It is clear that MUCH needs to be done in the UK so that girls don’t feel pressured to adapt their own behaviour and aspirations to navigate a society entrenched with patriarchy and sexism. Instead, society needs to change to meet girls’ expectations, and to ensure every girl has the opportunity to fulfil their God-given potential.

I may not want an International Day of the Girl, but I believe that we need it.

Today on 11 October – International Day of the Girl, I choose not to despair- instead I choose to hope. Because we, as followers of Jesus, have a wonderful message of Gospel hope to share with each and every person (including girls):

Because you are made in the image of God, you are loved, you have incredible value, and you have been made to fulfil your unique God-given potential.

Please don’t perceive gender justice as ‘a girl problem’; it’s our problem. When half the Church is limited and losing confidence, everyone is affected. Ultimately, we need to work together to cultivate a culture of worth for ALL of God’s people, and to recognise, and act on the truth that each of us has equal value, regardless of what we look like or what our gender, age, race or ability is. This is the hopeful message Jesus brought and he’s calling us to follow in his footsteps today in our communities, our churches, and wherever else he has placed us.

Together, let’s enable girls to be the generation-shapers, hope-bringers, and transformers of culture God created them to be.

So, how will you create a culture of worth in your words and actions today?

Written by Claire Rush // Follow Claire on  Twitter // Claire's  Website

Dr Claire Rush is Participation and Advocacy Co-ordinator for Girls’ Brigade England & Wales, Vice-President of Girls’ Brigade International, a trustee of the Sophia Network and is passionate about empowering a generation of women to reach their full potential. Being from ‘Norn Iron’, this means she basically lives on a train or plane.

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