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International Day of the Girl: Fight for Education

On October 11, 2014, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and CARE celebrated the International Day of the Girl in Atlanta. Below is an op-ed written by CARE CEO Helene Gayle and The Center's COO Deborah J. Richardson. (Click link below for full text).

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Press photo courtesy of Center for Civil and Human RIghts

As leaders of Atlanta-based organizations dedicated to human rights around the globe, we often have the privilege of speaking to inspiring young people seemingly ready to lead the world. Of course, many of them are girls. We find ourselves thinking “wow, she might just grow up to be the next Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Eleanor Roosevelt.”

But that sentiment isn’t quite right. The reality is that we don’t have to wait for anyone to grow up. Those hoped-for leaders are already here. Girls, after all, are helping transform their communities around the world, whether you’re talking about the fight against human trafficking in Atlanta or the struggle for girl’s education in Pakistan. That’s why today countries around the world are recognizing International Day of the Girl.

Strong girls’ leadership is nothing new. Few people know that Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old, was actually the first person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, nine months before Rosa Parks’ more publicized arrest. Civil rights leaders threw the spotlight on Parks courageous act of defiance instead. Even so, Colvin was one of five people included in the federal court cases challenging bus segregation. And three days after her compelling testimony, the Supreme Court struck down bus segregation in Alabama.

A generation later and half a world away, in the Mathare slums of Kenya, young Peninah Nthenya Musyimi led not by sitting but walking. Her family could not afford to send her to secondary school ...

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