The blessing of girls.  Their tough and tender souls.  Their passion, their wit, and the way they cut straight through your bullshit to get to the core of the matter.  The size of their hearts and the strength in their fight.

And the power of girls.  How their intuition and empathy help them become outstanding natural leaders.  Their vision of what is as well as what could be.  Their instinctive belief that all things are possible.

But oh, what we’ve done to them…

There’s Mili, an 8-year-old girl whose Nebraska soccer team was disqualified from playing on the final tournament day over a dispute about her gender.  Sunday’s story stated that Springfield soccer organizers insisted Mili was a boy, a mistake the family attributed to Mili’s appearance.  Tuesday’s story stated that a registrar’s typo on the roster listed Mili as a boy, an error that couldn’t be resolved even with a physician’s letter at the field.  All of which left Mili facing the same attitude she’d dealt with more than a few times: you can’t be a girl, because you don’t look like what a girl should look like.

Then we have young women straight out of college, graduates with degrees, who earn less than their male counterparts.  Right out of school.  This eliminates the mommy track argument, that women make less over time because they typically take time off to raise children or pursue less aggressive career paths to accommodate family life.  What are these young women learning about their worth?

The issues facing girls around the world are, in a word, staggering.  One in four girls in developing countries never complete a primary education.  Reproductive health rights are at risk in our own country and practically invisible in the third world.  There are obscene statistics on gender based violence and the horror of Female Genital Mutilation.  We’re failing our girls, here and abroad.

Rape case after rape case is splashed across our media.  Stories of women confronted on the stand about their sex lives, their social habits, the clothes they wear and the bars they frequent.  Women whose rapes are witnessed; women who stand together with fellow survivors and say yes, he raped me, too.  A young woman whose stepbrother confessed to a non-consensual sex act.  Yet we see case after case of not guilty verdicts, no prison time, or three months in the local jail.  Where is the justice then?

Girls bring their prism of light into the world, scattering beams in every direction.  Their colors are breathtaking…unique…and deserving of our protection.