Some of the signs featured rights listed in the Girls Inc. 'bill of rights.'
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Sixth-graders Savannah Peterson-Holt and Yanet Asanke stood outside of Girls. Inc. on Thursday at rush hour with about 20 of their peers holding a handmade sign.
It was a sign honoring Girls Inc. of the Berkshires and one they had worked on for a few days together during the after-school program.
Beside them were other girls holding various signs -- some reading #Strong, others reading #Smart, and others more elaborate featuring one of the six rights listed on Girls Inc.'s "bill of rights."
Together they were sending a message to all of the vehicles passing by on East Street -- that girls are empowered to do amazing things.
"We are celebrating International Day of the Girl," Peterson-Holt said. "It means that girls have rights and they can do things that you don't think they can do."
International Day of the Girl Child is a resolution from the United Nations recognizing Oct. 11 as a day to focus on the challenges girls face throughout the world and to promote empowerment. Particularly, the international day looks to close gender gaps that exist.
"Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world -- both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow's workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability," the resolution reads.
"Over the last 15 years, the global community has made significant progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood. In 2015, girls in the first decade of life are more likely to enroll in primary school, receive key vaccinations, and are less likely to suffer from health and nutrition problems than were previous generations. However, there has been insufficient investment in addressing the challenges girls face when they enter the second decade of their lives. This includes obtaining quality secondary and higher education, avoiding child marriage, receiving information and services related to puberty and reproductive health, and protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and gender-based violence."
The resolution coincides with the mission of Girls Inc., which Sidney Hamilton, a local program coordinator for Girls Inc., can tell you is to "inspire all girls to be strong smart and bold."
"These are signs of accomplishment and pride," Hamilton, who oversaw the local project with Sarah Gillooly, said.
The girls spread a message of empowerment.
The second of six rights listed in Girls Inc.'s "bill of rights" is that girls have the right to "express themselves with originality and enthusiasm." And that is a right the girls used Thursday afternoon to spread their message.
"We are capable many things and we are celebrating that today," Asanke said. "We think it is important for us to do it."
The Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, home of Girls Inc. of the Berkshires, taught the organization's bill of rights to the girls as the project unfolded. Each day, the national Girls Inc. would take to social media and post about one of those rights and those 30 or so at the center would talk about it.
"We talked about the bill of rights and what that means to them. One of them is that they have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm. So what does that mean to you? When they were posted, we talked about it and what that means to them," Gillooly said.
Across the country, Girls Inc. chapters are taking part in the day. It is a day to push for equal access and opportunity throughout the world. The local girls lined the sidewalk and cheered as passing vehicles beeped and waved.
"That means they are actually paying attention to what we are trying to say," Peterson-Holt said about the beeping vehicles.
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