Different realities avail us with unique life-long goals that are rooted in virtue and justice. On several occasions, societies and their corresponding leaders take stands to treat certain groups of people in a certain manner. This resultantly defines how different groups react to the treatment and eventually what they are in actual sense able to do, achieve and contribute to their own growth and that of the society they live in. Every single day marks a new beginning and an opportunity to re-set and start again. This fact works to emphasize the significance of the ‘International day of the Girl Child’ – 11th October.Observing this day is a step in the right direction, but let’s not forget, the call to empower girls in any society must be an issue of every single day. Every step, every contribution counts. This year’s theme 2019 is, “Girl Force: Unscripted and unstoppable”. The reality is, rights, voices and influence of girls in our families, communities and countries has grown with the passing of each year. This has been a combined effort of organizations, individuals and blocs of all kind. Girls have broken barriers in the education sector, work and cultural ties, making them more productive in the societies they live in. So what then do we have to do, to add onto that which is already in place?
Our task as progress minded people on such a day is simple,Increase awareness of all inequalities faced by the Girl child in the society, avail and implement long lasting solutions where inequalities are still hovering over the heads of the girl child. Inequality in education breaks the potential of most girls,keeping levels of illiteracy in families higher. In East Africa, the levels of illiteracy are higher amongst girls as opposed to boys. This works to undermine what girls can contribute to the society. In some traditional societies in sub Saharan Africa, girls are still prohibited from eating certain foods that are only set aside for boys, this perpetrates inequality in terms of nutrition. The Ugly head of child marriages, keeps popping out every time society is looking for adversities that have kept girls in bondage and poverty. If a girl is being raised only to provide sex and do domestic chores for the husband, then her levels of productivity in terms of earning income for herself will be low. Let’s not forget gender-based violence, which is sometimes approved by elders in societies. In Asian countries like Nepal girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation are under uncontestable bondage. This deals a great blow to their self-esteem. In actual sense, in all our days, we should live to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for the girl child, not the other way round.
Well then, let us create awareness of all these inequalities as we mark this year’s day of the girl child. As individuals, wherever we are, let us treat them with the dignity they deserve, our actions will teach others what is right. Let us speak up and dialogue on solutions in a positive manner, solutions that will work to eliminate discrimination against girls and do away with cultural attitudes and practices against girls. Before settling down to write this piece, I attended a breast cancer conference in Doha. In the company of one Ethiopian friend, we were asked to pin breast cancer ribbons on our blazers. These ribbons had to be pinned every other day, for the month of the ongoing breast cancer screening. My friend opted to ignore the whole step of pinning, his point – attending the conference was enough. What do you think? Look at the role that breast cancer ribbon play in terms of awareness, how many girl’s lives can be saved by awareness brought about by a single ribbon? If we are to commit ourselves to empowering the girl child, then we should do away with selfish desires. In our work places, in schools, on media platforms and airwaves, we can create awareness. Several years back, I read a story of a Kenyan girl who stood up, single handedly and defended her right to education as opposed to early marriage. She had been inspired by a radio talk show where one female graduate had run to the central police station for safety on her would be wedding day. This all happened when she was only 14. The law was definitely on her side, with different organizations coming to her aid, she got a decent education. Awareness of any kind is of great value, remember knowledge is power.
With the Beijing declaration in mind, Prince Wako foundation is pumped up to join the world, encourage societies and in actual sense, equip girls with power and knowledge to unceasingly voice their concerns and aspirations. In tandem, the Platform for Action urges the world to;
This only goes to say, there is still a lot of work to do. Girls around the world live under different settings and conditions – there are those living in rural areas, in war zones, in refugee camps, some live under similar settings but have disabilities of all kinds. Trust me, all these still need us to stand with them to achieve their full potential. Their full potential will eventually lead to rapid society growth and development.
As we come together as global community to celebrate the strides made in empowering the girl child, let us work to make sure that girls in all settings can exercise their right to make a brighter future for themselves. I challenge you to become a tool of awareness today. Use your passion, a platform of your choice, to remind the world of the need to uphold and respects the rights of the girl Child. Look around your immediate environment, pin point an unfavorable condition that is holding back the progress of a girl child, and in two sentences share your preferred solutions under the circumstances before your very own eyes. Let us work to empower the girl child and build our nations