Girls Inc. of Jackson County and Cummins Seymour Engine Plant recently combined forces to recognize International Day of the Girl 2022.
Ginger Schneck, executive director of Girls Inc., said the nonprofit organization celebrates the power and potential of girls every day.
“International Day of the Girl is a unique opportunity to further lift up the value of their contributions and the importance of supporting their success along with the rest of the world,” she said. “The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl was ‘Digital generation. Our generation,’ providing a platform for the global community to understand the disadvantages girls face online and in the digital space.”
On Oct. 11, employees from Cummins, through the corporate responsibility program, provided discussion on girls’ place in the digital era and a craft project focused on binary coding, where they turned names, birthdays, secret messages, etc. into binary code and put it on a bracelet or keychain.
“As we work together with girls, we seek to create experiences to help girls tap into their inherent power and personal strength because we know that when given the tools and opportunities, not only do they change their circumstances, they change the world,” Schneck said.
Cummins employee Kathryn McCarthy said International Day of the Girl is an annually recognized event where the achievements of girls and women are celebrated and the inequalities they still have in the world are recognized.
She was at Girls Inc. with seven other Cummins employees.
“This is the first time we’ve been onsite for this, and we had really ramped up our engagement in February of 2020. Then COVID hit,” she said. “So this April, we were allowed to start going back onsite now, so we were very virtual for the past two and a half years.”
McCarthy and her two co-workers, Pallav Pathak and Lee Ann Duvall, worked with girls in kindergarten and first grade, Sriya Chelluri and Praveena Jetty were with the second and third grade class and Durga Sripada and Kamal Rajagopalan helped the fourth- and fifth-graders.
When McCarthy asked the girls what they thought International Day of the Girl meant, 6-year-old Jada Douglas said, “International Day is when people do some new stuff and they have to celebrate people we know, and we celebrate them to come back to life one day.”
McCarthy said Douglas’ guess was close. They would be celebrating girls — all of the girls in the classroom and all over the world.
One of the kindergarten girls said she wanted to celebrate girl animals, too.
“Has anybody ever wondered how a computer knows how to play a video or how to play a song?” McCarthy asked. “There is a thing called coding, and it’s basically a translation and we have to figure out what a word is and then make it understandable for the computer.”
She explained to the class how they were going to show the girls how to make bracelets and keychains in a secret language.
The girls were each given a paper with a key of binary codes that represented every letter of the alphabet and were then asked to write down their initials, find the corresponding codes and use two colors of beads in the same pattern to make their crafts.
Pathak told the girls that computers don’t know how to speak English, so the way people show them how to speak English is through binary codes.
While the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting, some 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 still do not have Internet access at home, according to unicef.org.
The Unicef website said girls are more likely to be cut off. The gender gap for global internet users grew from 11% in 2013 to 17% in 2019. In the world’s least developed countries, it hovers around 43%, but the gender digital divide is about more than connectivity.
Girls also are less likely than boys to use and own devices and gain access to tech-related skills and jobs. Only by addressing the inequity and exclusion that span geographies and generations can we usher in a digital revolution for all.
President Joe Biden proclaimed Oct. 11, 2022, as International Day of the Girl to increase awareness of issues faced by girls around the world.
Biden said when girls break barriers, they blaze trails for the generations that follow. Investing in their health, safety, education and economic security moves us closer to building more just, equitable societies and flourishing democracies, he said.
“It helps us develop leaders across sectors and enables us to create a strong workforce that is ready to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead,” he said. “Together, we can prepare the next dreamers and doers to shape a new and better future for us all.”
At Girls Inc. of Jackson County, girls can be encouraged to pursue their dreams with the support of a local center and a national organization dedicated to inspire girls to become strong, smart and bold. The organization provides researched-based curriculum to equip girls to achieve academically, lead healthy and physically active lives and become leaders of tomorrow.
Learn more about International Day of the Girl at unicef.org, and find information about Girls Inc. of Jackson County at girlsincjackson.org.