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By Leigh Weingus

The global population of girls was about 1.1 billion in 2017. And unfortunately, the conditions for many of them are pretty dire: Every 10 minutes a teenage girl dies because of violence. Additionally, child marriage around the globe is a huge problem. By the end of 2018, 12 million girls under 18 will be married, and 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years will become pregnant in developing regions, according to UN Women.

And especially in developing countries, education and employment is inaccessible to many.

In an effort to draw attention to these issues and find solutions, the UN declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the many issues girls are facing around the globe and give them the tools for a better, more fulfilling future. It is only with these resources that girls will find equal footing with their male counterparts.

The 2018 theme of International Day of the Girl is “A Skilled GirlForce,” which is all about giving young girls the education and support they need to be able to succeed in the workforce — especially because 600 million of them are adolescents who will be of working age very soon.

“Today's generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation,” the UN said in a statement. “Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed or in education or training.”

Today will mark the beginning of a year-long effort to provide girls all over the globe with the tools they need to successfully enter the workforce by asking the global community to rethink how to help them make an easier transition, chart new pathways and expand learning opportunities. By next October, the hope is that many more young women will be better prepared to enter the workforce than they are today.

International Day of the Girl isn’t just a day, it’s a movement. And in order for it to be successful, it’s imperative that everyone get involved — and a lot of organizations are embracing the opportunity, including Plan International, Girls Who Code and The Female Quotient.

If you want to help the cause, you can use the hashtag #DayOfTheGirl or #GirlsBelongHere to join the conversation online or donate to these organizations and others that support the education and advancement of girls and women, including the Global Girls Alliance, She’s The First, Malala Fund, Girls Not Brides, #BuiltByGirls, Muslim Girl, UNICEF and more.

Of course, giving money isn’t the only way you can get involved: One of the best ways to help young women is to let the girls in your own life know how much they mean to you and that you believe in them. Sometimes, encouraging words at exactly the right time can be life-changing.