Saturday, 13 October 2012

Scooters and International Day of the Girl

Thursday, October 11th, was the first International Day of the Girl. It's a day meant to promote equal treatment for girls around the world, whether it's in education or health or marriage. This year's campaign focused on the huge number of girls who are forced to marry when they are as young as eight. There are some powerful pictures online of child brides.

I don't know how far these international days can go to improve situations, but this one came in a bad week for girls. In Pakistan, there was the obscene case of the Taliban shooting a 14-year-old girl, Malala Youafzai, just because she had become an advocate for girls' education and dreamt of becoming a doctor. In Canada, where girls have made great strides in schools, there was the horribly sad apparent suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd who went through years of stalking and tortuous bullying in the Facebook age before putting her story on you-tube last year.

If anything, those stories do highlight the need for such an international day. But, okay, I write a blog about scooters. And how could I possibly tie those stories to my subject? As an ESL teacher, I talk to my students a lot about using transitions in their writing. But no transitional word or phrase seems adequate to the task of connecting scooters to the tragic stories of girls' lives thwarted. HOWEVER...

However, just so you don't think it's all bad news out there for girls, I'm posting this story from India, which has its share of stories about child brides, unequal opportunities for education and abuse. It's a story about girls, scooters and the International Day of the Girl. And yes, there's a marketing angle to the story. It may seem frivolous, even tasteless to bring up this story in the same context as the others. These are middle-class girls from families who can afford scooters tasting independence. But my hope is that girls like these ones learn from that experience of independence and go on to become policy makers who bring other less-fortunate girls along with them. And one has to find hope where one can.

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