by Emma Stydahar

Exciting/amazing/fabulous news: The City of New York, in collaboration with SPARK (but of course, where else would all this fabulousness come from?), declared October 11, 2012 New York City’s first annual Day of the Girl!  This declaration comes at the same time that the UN adopted Resolution 66/170, which declares October 11 as the International Day of the Girl.

I was lucky enough to be able to not only attend, but to give a speech at the Official Proclamation of October 11, 2012 as New York City’s first annual Day of the Girl.  My fellow speakers include SPARK’s Executive Director, Dana Edell, SPARKteam member Britney Franco, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s office Commission on Women’s Issues, Andrea Shapiro Davis, as well as some extraordinary and inspirational girls from Girls Write Now, Project Girl Performance Collective and Girls for Gender Equity.  The event, which was held at SPARKpartner Hunter College, proved just as moving and inspiring as expected.

The proclamation of New York City’s Day of the Girl came not a moment too soon.  As all of the speakers and performers attested to, girls in New York City face a number of specific challenges and obstacles, from street harassment, to overexposure to sexualized images everywhere from subway ads to billboards, to a dramatic spike in rape over the past couple years, to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children which directly victimizes an estimated 2,200 youths in New York City alone.  It was so amazing to see not only a room full of people of all different ages, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds, but an entire city as diverse as New York come together in support of their young women.

Now is a pivotal point in time for the girls of New York City and girls across the globe.  What with the advent of The Day of the Girl, both on a local and international level, the issues of young women are being recognized on a larger scale than ever.  With this recognition comes a great responsibility.  The aim of the Day of the Girl to speak out against bias and advocate for girl’s rights must translate to constructive conversation, expanding awareness, and girl-positive and progressive legislation all year round if the Day of the Girl is going to be a success.