My life changed forever in 1995, when my daughter was born. I have been so lucky to not only have a daughter, but to also be blessed in my life to be able to provide her with a safe and secure environment, something that every girl deserves to have. The experience of being a father to a wonderful daughter has heightened my awareness of the challenges that girls around the world are facing. A girl should be able to grow up thinking she can be whatever she wants, and part of the reason I say that I am lucky is because I know that my daughter truly believes that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
However, I know that not all girls are as lucky as my daughter. Girls around the world are more likely than boys to suffer from malnutrition, be forced into an early marriage, be subjected to violence, be sold into the sex trade, or become infected with HIV. Girls are more likely to face discrimination in their own communities, even in their own homes. Also in some places around the world, compared to boys, girls have limited access to doctors or even to primary education (if they are able to go to school at all).
We need to change all that. It is time to end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence, and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls. Every girl deserves the chance to attend secondary school and go on to college, and no girl should have to endure childhood marriage.
Cambodia has made progress in areas that negatively impact girls, and this is evident in the latest Trafficking in Persons Report. I am happy to see this positive trend and that issues involving gender equality are becoming more important to Cambodians. Please mark October 11th on your calendars and celebrate International Day of the Girl Child with my daughter and me, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and with women and men around the world.