Happy International Day of the Girl from all of us at the Imago Dei Fund! On behalf of our whole team, we invite you, wherever you hail from and whatever work is your main focus, to take a moment to remember the #MeToo movement that rippled around the world some two years ago and the intolerable status quo that still steals childhood from too many of our world girls. 

Right now, systemic racism is more on our global radar screen, but if you scratch beneath the surface of our world’s racial and gender struggles you see that both are responding to something very similar at their core: a pyramidal social structure that built civilization as we know it, on the backs of enslaved, subjugated peoples, elevating some as a master class and devaluing and stigmatizing others as inferior. 

For more on the patriarchal roots of human oppression and slavery, here is a short animated “splainer” video we invite you to watch if you haven’t already.

As we are working to turn a corner on this global pandemic, there is a growing sense for both how interconnected we are as a human family and how interconnected and systemic all of our world’s problems are. As Arundhati Roy described in “The Pandemic Is a Portal”, there is something in this moment we are living through that is inviting us to walk forward by letting go of the collective luggage of our past:

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

In honor of International Day of the Girl, we invite you to make some space this week to intentionally cultivate a more intersectional mindset to bring a more intentional gender lens to your social justice work. 

We cannot progress as a human species on any front if we do not do the work to untangle ourselves from the systemic roots of patriarchy, which still in the 21st century, make girls around the world so vulnerable to pervasive exploitation and devaluation. We are very aware that in many settings, both conservative and progressive and everything in between, there is still an impulse to sweep domestic violence – which has been soaring during this pandemic – and exploitative sexual behavior (i.e. older men with power using their position of privilege to sexually prey on economically vulnerable and younger women and girls, boys too) under the rug and move on a little too quickly with little or no repercussion. We can do better. We must do better to see and acknowledge this most ancient of oppressions which lives on like a disease within other injustices and continues to hide under a veneer of both tradition and progress.

In honor of the incredible spirit of girls around the world who are taking the baton of their mothers and grandmothers to rise up to own and develop their full humanity and co-create a more equitable, gender-balanced world, please take some time to hold in your hearts the facts on the ground which fall particularly hard still steal childhood from too many of our worlds girls. 

Women and girls have made tremendous strides toward achieving equal human rights, yet the global data shows that there remains much more for us all to do to create the world our girls deserve. Why aren’t we there yet? What’s going on here? What’s yours to do in your particular threads of the social weave right in front of you?

Even amid the losses of this global pandemic and the deep divisions which still plague the human family, if we have eyes to see we will notice that there are incredible movements of humanity and Spirit rising up everywhere in our world as we care for one another, as we work collectively to “flatten the curve” of long-running human oppressions, and as we look ahead to co-create a new, more humane “normal”.

Thank you to all of our partners who are doing incredible work around the world to support the normal empowerment of girls and women and to help walk our world forward, through the portal of this pandemic, to the better, more just and gender-balanced world we all seek for ourselves and the next generation.

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

~ late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg