Where Are We At As A Society On This International Day of the Girl?

Judging by recent events in the United States and the ongoing horror of missing and murdered indigenous girls in Canada, we have not gone very far from the days when girls and women were not much more than men’s ‘many toys’ 

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted  October 11th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Lesley Gore, who died in February of 2016 at age 68, made this empowering song a bit hit when she was 16 years old. On her new album, Ann Wilson reminds that the song has not lost its relevance.

This past August at Artpark in Lewiston, New York, was saw the still mighty Ann Wilson, lead singer of the classic rock and soul band Heart, sing a few songs from her latest album ‘Immortal’, featuring a set of songs from recently departed pop music icons.

One of the songs Ann Wilson sang from the album is called “You Don’t Own Me,” a song that became a big hit in the early 1960s for the late American pop singer Lesley Gore, who was better known at the time for teeny bopper songs like “It’s My Party” and “Sunshine, Lollypops.”

Wilson called the song was very gutsy for a teen artists to perform at the time, with lyrics that began – “You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys. You don’t own me; don’t say I can’t go with other boys. And don’t tell me what to do,  Don’t tell me what to say,  And please, when I go out with you, Don’t put me on display… “

Gutsy for 1963? Before the advent of the women’s movements of the last half of the 20th century and more than 50 years before the #Me Too Movement of today, it was a gutsy song for a young American girl to belt out – and she did belt it out – indeed.

I thought of Ann Wilson performing that song after introducing it as one of the earlier freedom anthems for young girls and women this October 11th, after receiving the following statement from the Office of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in recognition of the “International Day of the Girl.”

I also thought of the countless number of cases of missing and murder indigenous girls that remain unresolved in Canada, and of all of the reports I continue to read and hear about women in this country and others being harassed in the work place.

This demonstration, one of many of its kind, took place recently, right here in Canada.

And my thoughts I also turned back to the horrid events of the past few weeks in the United States, where a woman who finally showed the courage to come forward a talk about how when she was 15 years old – just a year younger than Lesley Gore was when she sang that song – she was sexually assaulted by a young man who, as of this October 8th, sits as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

This woman – Christine Blasey Ford – was verbally raped again by individuals and groups right up to and including the president of the United States for coming forward with her story about an attempted rape assault on her when she was 15 years old.

I thought about watching that woman, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, on cable news channels, being mocked and painted as part of something “evil” by the president of the United States, and being repeatedly laughed and scoffed at by millions of the same president’s male and female supporters.

I thought of all this and I wonder again, if these international days for girls, or for peace, or for ending world hunger or for protecting the environment, or whatever it is, mean anything more than ‘Groundhog Day’ or a pizza day for kids at school?

Anyway, here is the Prime Minister’s statement on the International Day of the Girl –

“Even in 2018, girls across the board face higher rates of violence, poverty, discrimination, and other systemic barriers that hold them back. It’s long past time for that to change.” -Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

Statement by the Prime Minister on the International Day of the Girl

Posted October 11th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the International Day of the Girl:

“On the International Day of the Girl, we celebrate girls around the world: their voices, their power, their future. We also take a hard look at the challenges they face, and keep working to make sure girls everywhere can thrive.

“In Canada and around the globe, girls are changing their communities and shaping their societies for the better. They show us that when girls have the support and opportunities to achieve their highest potential, they transform our world.

“Yet even in 2018, girls across the board face higher rates of violence, poverty, discrimination, and other systemic barriers that hold them back. It’s long past time for that to change. The activists on the frontlines of that fight are girls – demanding their rights be respected and that their voices be heard.

“This year’s United Nations theme for the day With Her: A Skilled GirlForcereminds us that everyone benefits when girls have the chance to excel. We need to increase learning opportunities for girls so they can succeed in the workforce of today and tackle the jobs, and challenges, of tomorrow.

“Every young person should have access to quality education and modern skills training. Canada is helping bring the international community together to make this a priority. At the G7 Summit earlier this year, Canada and partners announced a historic investment of nearly $3.8 billion – the largest of its kind – to support quality education for women and girls in conflict and crisis situations.

One of the bravest girls in the world – Malala Yousafzai – a Nobel Peace Prize winner and honourary Canadian citizen, almost shot dead for fighting for girl’s rights everywhere to an education.

“At the United Nations General Assembly last month, Canada built on this momentum, and welcomed an additional $527 million to help developing countries give every child access to the education and training they need to succeed.

“In Canada, women in the workforce have been one of the most powerful sources of growth in recent decades – but we need to do more to increase girls’ access to career guidance, mentorship, and networks they need to transition from school to work.

“The Government of Canada is expanding training and education programs for women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, and helping girls enter careers in skilled trades through the new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women. These measures will help reduce gender gaps and build a more prosperous future for all Canadians.

“International Day of the Girl falls in the middle of Women’s History Montha reminder that girls grow up to change the world. It’s up to all of us to teach girls that they can be anything they want to be – and to recognize the girls making an impact right now in our communities. Together, we can make sure girls have the freedom and support they need to keep transforming our world and chasing down their dreams.”

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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