The aunties

This is one of my favourite family photos.  Taken shortly after my first daughter was born, upon the arrival of a gaggle of Palvetzian’s for whom hospital visiting hours are, “helpful suggestions.”

My 3 sisters and little brother (who was parking the car!) along with our parents and large, extended family have lined our children’s lives from moment one.  My daughter – and her beautiful sister who arrived in this world to a similar scene a few years later – have been coated in love, safety, health and supports from all angles since their first independent breaths.

We make a lot of girls in our family – a ratio of 4:1 in nearly every generation. And while change is slow, and progress frustratingly iterative at times, my daughters and nieces have not grown up often wondering if their voice has equal volume…if their worth is measured in common units…if their presence has merit or value….if their dreams have edges that need to be clipped.

Every child deserves to know this. Regardless of the flag above their nation or the gender they walk into and through life with. But this is not the case.

For nearly 50 years, as we've marked International Women's Day on March 8th, we're reminded us of the progress that’s been made, and the work that still lies ahead. I’m in awe of the advancements of courageous women and girls pushing the envelope for change – and ensuring it’s packed with substance when opened.

But we need only look through the lens of girls’ childhoods around the world to remind us of the profound disparity that exists, and how far we still need to travel.

It’s 2024, and yet globally:

  • 1 in 5 girls is married in childhood or adolescence.
  • Over 230 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation – many before their 5th birthday.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 adolescent girls are not in education, employment or training compared to 13% of boys the same age.

Every little girl born around the world deserves to know safety, equal opportunity, health and joy. This won’t happen by accident. And it isn’t possible without UNICEF. To our incredible team, board, supporters, and partners including #WomenUNLimited – thank you for the contributions you make.  They’re meaningful, impactful and help support the wishes and rights of young girls everywhere.

Yes, certain days on the calendar encourage us to push pause and reflect. 
That includes #IWD and birthdays; the newborn in this photo blew out the candles on her 16th (!!) birthday cake a couple weeks ago. I don’t know what she wished for, but here’s mine, today: that next year, numbers like those above won’t be as glaring.