Can you imagine never knowing when your birthday is? All of your friends are getting ready to celebrate their Sweet Sixteens, and you have no clue if you are 15 or 16 or even 17. Not knowing your date of birth would affect your sense of identity and your ability to go to school and get a job in the formal business sector.
But sadly, we’re not imagining things. This is a reality every year for 51 million girls under 5 years old around the world. Due to an unavailability of systems to count these girls, and sometimes simply due to a lack of political will, girls will be denied birth certificates or other forms of official identification. These girls are invisible members of society.
At Girl Up, we’re trying our hardest to make these girls visible. We’re spreading the word to members of Congress – and we hope you will spread the word, too. Recently, the Girls Count Act of 2013 has been introduced to Congress, urging the U.S. government to work with the United Nations around the world to create and enforce laws that collect data on girls and protect their rights.
If you want to school yourself on the ins and outs of why girls count, then we know of the go-to guide for you: Last week, UNICEF published an awesome handbook that strengthens the fight to mandate birth registration, entitled Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration. UNICEF marked its 67th birthday with the publishing of this report, and we are so excited that they are celebrating with a commitment to making sure girls are counted.
Because numbers count. And so should girls.