The world is only now starting to realize that millions of girls face a lifetime of poverty and struggle, simply because they were born female.
A decision this week at the UN declares October 11 the International Day of the Girl Child offers a real opportunity to make a difference and give girls the chance of a better life.
One confronting statistic stood out: A girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than to go to school. In fact, pregnancy is the leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in developing countries.
Millions of girls around the world get left behind in all areas of life and are prevented from fulfilling their true potential by severe discrimination and prejudice.
This starts even before some girls are born. There are an estimated 100 million girls and women missing worldwide because of the growing practice of female foeticide spurred on by a preference for sons.
If girls manage to survive, they are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys as toddlers and young children.
Girls are less likely to attend primary school and make up 92 per cent of the 67 million children who are not in school right now. They are far less likely than boys to go to secondary school and can often find themselves married and running a household by the age of 14.
They experience more violence and sexual harassment just because they are girls, even within marriage, and are more likely to be trafficked and forced into sex work. They are more likely to stay poor and pass on the legacy of poverty to their children and future generations.