Last night in Washington, a group of leaders gathered to talk about something that really matters. Not political gossip, but children. The 18,000 young children who die each day of things we know how to prevent.
They are great in number, these girls; they belong to an exploding population of youth worldwide -- the largest in history. And these girls are bubbling with untapped potential that will continue to be squashed unless we put them at the center of global development efforts in the coming decade.
It's time to make a radical shift, to start seeing girls not as vulnerable or as a liability, but as potential leaders. It's time to see girls for who they are: the driving force of their generation, one poised to bring real social change.
As we mark the second International Day of the Girl on October 11, I'm calling for a similar recognition of the power and potential of girls, enlisting them in our mission to bring safe, sustainable sanitation to the billions who live without it.
Malala Yousafzai has brought an incredible amount of attention to the power of adolescent girls. As we celebrate Malala's courage, it is important to remember the 250 million girls around the world who lack safe access to education, healthcare or basic needs like food and shelter.
In the 21st century, no woman should die bringing new life into the world. With just over 800 days remaining to the MDGs deadline, we must combine our efforts to tackle the causes of maternal death and prevent unintended pregnancies.
Bold, brave, smart, sporty and she speaks out against injustice (including unfair bedtimes). That's my nine-year-old daughter. On International Day of the Girl Child, our hope is that all girls will have the freedom to speak out.
As International Day of the Girl Child approaches, I think of the obstacles that stand in the way of girls and their education. But I also imagine things the way they should be: with them attending university, speaking boldly and confidently, and being valued by all of us for the full spectrum of who they are.
I was the fourth baby my mother delivered, but only the second that survived.
All in all, one thing was clear to me about the Social Good Summit -- its narrative was built around the belief that technology and innovation will greatly improve our world and it was inspiring.
It is undeniable that Haiti needs -- and deserves -- a functional and dignified solution that provides the major tools to combat diarrheal disease -- clean water, primary healthcare, and clean waste. This is not a Haitian problem: It is a global one.
For expected mothers, good oral health and good physical health should be solidified as one and the same. Everything is shared between a baby and the mother, and at the end of the nine months, maintaining a clean and healthy mouth will put a smile on your newborn's face.
Riya Singh is a girl leader based in San Francisco who is committed to supporting girls' leadership around the world. Riya has worked as a teen advisor for GirlUp, where she raises funds and support for girls in developing countries.
Having a close network of fellow parents to lean on and learn from, not to mention a supportive family, has made parenting easier for me. Meanwhile, in isolated, poverty-stricken communities across America, too many moms and dads face parenthood all alone.
Physical activity and movement are critical components to obesity prevention. Yet, the large majority or our children do not achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day.
We know that obstetric fistula is easily preventable. And yet, millions of African women suffer from the condition. As we help mothers around the world improve their lives through education, resources, and other aid, we need to first convey the basic underlying tenet to the mother: She is worth it.
It is a sad statement that childhood tuberculosis still kills as many children as it does. But this is an eminently solvable problem. All the world needs is a more aggressive commitment to end the disease.
No country can afford to forgo opportunities to make sexual and reproductive health and rights a reality in the 21st century. These priorities are keys to unleashing the full energies and talents of our people, especially women and young people.
The barriers to girls' education in the developing world are complicated, no question -- early and forced marriage, sexual violence, poverty, AIDS, tradition -- but we know that if you educate girls, great things happen.
Shennel Henries is a girl leader from Monrovia, Liberia who is 14 years old. Shennel is leading a campaign for girls' rights in Liberia, where she is developing the Manifesto for the Development and Empowerment of the Liberian Girl Child.