THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD 2018.
Written by: Federick H
With the 11th of October fast approaching, we cannot help it, but actively remind ourselves of the significance of The International Day of the Girl Child. The theme for this year is, “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict.” For the billions of girls all over the word, we believe that each of them in their own right deserves to be accorded equal opportunities in all aspects of life. Like any other human being, they are a source of creativity and power that can definitely lead to development. Let’s not forget that for every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of inhuman or degrading treatment; this could be as a result of torture or violence, abortion, trafficking, effects of child marriage, lack of access to healthcare etc. Faced with different kinds of conflicts all over the world, with never ceasing war zones and several conflict ridden countries, we need to call upon leaders of nations to become more thorough in governance and rights protection. Appropriate policies and implementation strategies should be put in place to empower girls in such crisis, despite of the circumstances, given this platform, we shall collectively forge a strong foundation to enable societies implement relevant strategies to protect and empower the girl child, since they suffer most during and after conflict. From one continent to another, one society to another, it is very important for nations and concerned stakeholders to genuinely reflect on the challenges girls face world over, and therefore put in place appropriate ways to better any appalling situations. In that regard, we at Prince Wako foundation, having committed ourselves to a cause geared towards empowering the girl child, we definitely look forward to renewing our commitment by joining the rest of the world to mark this day and put into practice projects that will empower the girl child before, during and after conflicts. For this particular year, we want to focus on the right to Health and the Girl child. Is there a way, a better understanding of the right to Health can deal with challenges faced by the girl child in conflict areas? How can we better utilise the right to Health to enhance empowerment before, during and after conflict, especially in developing countries?
No matter the circumstances, whether there are conflicts or not, if developing countries can effectively deal with early teenage pregnancies, then the levels of productivity will definitely increase. Resources will be saved in families and girls will have time to be economically active. The day of the Girl Child was first launched in 2012 by the United Nations, this tells you how far the issue of the girl child has come. Dealing with teenage pregnancy can be approached in several ways. We will consider one of the underlying elements of the right to Health, ‘the access to Health related information.’ Many fall prey to early pregnancy merely because they are not fully aware of the significance of their reproductive health. Secondly if there is no access to Health necessities like pads, it easy to have school dropouts which translates into teenage pregnancies. If entitlements and responsibilities demanded by the right to Health as presented by the laws all over the world are adhered to, then the challenges of the girl child, no matter the circumstances will be eased. With particular reference to Uganda, significant progress has been realised. The mere fact that the society has acknowledged that the girl child faces more challenges than her counterpart, is a good starting point for the nation. This explains why girls are awarded extra points onto the UACE grades, which are used for university entry. The institution of the equal opportunities commission is also of great significance. This has not taken away the lack of essentials like pads most especially in rural areas, early pregnancies and several health complications that are unique to the girl child. In areas close to conflict zones like the border with South Sudan and the Democratic republic of Congo, there is a lot more work to be done. Those girls in refugee camps are girls like any other, and the right to Health applies to them, just like any other girl. So, can we rally relevant stakeholders to consider the essentials of the right to Health when dealing with the girl child in these circumstances? Yes sure we can, we can lead by example! How then can the right to Health be fully utilised to empower the girl child, regardless of the circumstances?
The right to Health encompasses several aspects that are usually ignored in many developing countries. Circumstances worsen when societies are faced with conflicts. What does this call for, adherence to the call to protect the rights regardless of the difficulties. In actual sense, if all these factors are put into consideration, many challenges that hinder the growth and development of the girl child can easily be dealt with. Yes, it is right to say that the right to Health is associated with access to healthcare and building of hospitals, this would be of great help in terms of accessing medical care during and after conflicts as the injured and tortured are rehabilitated, but this not all. This comes with several underlying factors. Factors that go to the core of the livelihood of humanity and in this case the wellbeing of the girl child. Think about a scenario where one problem is solved but then resultantly, 100 more problems are solved. With rights intertwined and interdependent, there are higher chances that protecting the right to health in reference to the girl child, whether within conflict areas or not, will have us hitting several birds with one stone.
Underlying aspects within the right to health include; accessing safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, safe food, adequate nutrition and housing. This significantly works well in the development of the girl child. Therefore governments can gain more by implementing policies under the right to Health. Secondly health related education and information. Information related to health is so scarce, most especially in rural areas. With this education available and relevant, teenage pregnancies and early marriages can easily be avoided. The right to Health also includes freedoms, freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. How about using the rights protection tools to protect The girl child at all levels of the society! The right to Health also contains entitlements these include; the right to access essential medicines, the right to prevention treatment and control of diseases and the right to a system of health protection providing equality of opportunity for everyone to enjoy the highest attainable level health. So if we as a society, led by national governments and all relevant stake holders adhere to the obligation to respect the right to Health regardless of circumstances, the girl child will enjoy many of these underlying aspects of the right to Health and thus leading to growth and development. Secondly with the obligation to protect that requires the government to take measures to prevent third parties from interfering with the right to health, we as individuals are given the go ahead to participate in this obligation through reporting any scenarios that threaten the right. Lastly with the obligation to fulfil, states can adopt promotional measures and legislation geared towards the full realisation of the right to Health, this includes working to prevent conflict situations and resolving conflicts effectively.
The right to Health is not the same as the right to be healthy. A country’s difficult financial situation does not absolve it from having to take action to realize the right to health. So moving forward, the International Day of the girl child 2018 is upon us, with different ideas, suggestions and strategies, more can be achieved. It should be collective. This year, Prince Wako foundation will join the rest of the world to forge appropriate ways forward, for the empowerment of the girl child. Be part of the cause to empower the girl child in your own unique way. This way, we shall have an everlasting change that will have a significant effect on the face of this earth.