Today, we celebrate girls around the world. We celebrate them because of their dreams, their potential, their value. These girls – they make us laugh, they hold us accountable, they make us whole. And they do that by being who they are. How do we help all girls find and be their true selves?
It begins with trust. If we trust someone, we respect them. We believe in their judgment, their decisions. We are not threatened by their greatness, by the unknown potential that begs to be discovered within them. Instead, we are drawn to it.
As #MeToo ricochets through social, educational, professional, and judicial institutions, we realize that not all are fully valued – but devalued voices can rise up. Strong. As we look back over the discarded, hidden, and intentionally obscured history – the one that doesn’t make its way into school textbooks – we gain a profound insight:
Progress has only been made when devalued voices gained ground. No oppressor grants freedom. No tyranny ends because of sudden benevolence.
It’s here that we often turn to the astounding leaders. People who stand out among millions. People who capture hearts and minds and intentionally or unintentionally influence a movement. I think of Malala – her courage and clarity. I think of her children’s book, “Malala’s Magic Pencil,” and wonder to myself – what would happen if every girl had a magic pencil?
“I knew then that if I had the magic pencil, I would use it to draw a better world, a peaceful world. First, I would erase war, poverty, and hunger. Then I would draw girls and boys together as equals.”
Today we clarify, once and for all, that the strength of any movement isn’t born from its leaders. It is enriched by them. The energy, the unstoppable will, comes from its people. The chorus of voices.
Today, we celebrate girls around the world. We celebrate all the space and time and experiences every girl deserves as she learns who she really is and of what she is capable. Food and water and air nourish the body, but today, we celebrate the things that nourish the spirit. Joy, laughter, education, hope, and love. We celebrate the women that well-nourished girls become. Because on this day, as we dream of where we are going, we realize that the world has never harbored such potential. And we realize that we will never stop until girls are celebrated and valued – wielding their magic pencils – discovering and sharing their greatness every day.