Yes! The day eagerly anticipated by girls, ladies, mothers, women activists, feminists and any one that has the interest of a girl child in mind is here. Today is the International Girl-child’s day; a day to celebrate the girl-child, list the challenges, how to overcome them and empower the girl-child and lots more that can make the day memorable. I am a girl-child (of course now, you can call me a lady…lol) but there is a girly part in every woman just as there is a boyish part in every man. So, I am a proud to be part of the clique widely celebrated today.
However, before we go through the history of how the day came to be and other things this piece would love to deal with, it is expedient to make ladies and girls feel celebrated even in this piece right? So, here are some stunning words to keep the heart of the girl-child lively:
She is a daughter, sister, wife and a mother in all forms of love. Her compassion and strength have no limits and there is an infinite pool of care that blossoms right when she comes to life, a girl. She doesn’t ask for much in the return of her faith in the power of love. Her care knows no bound with her umbilical heartbeat in her hand, her love needs no mention when she chooses one as for her only one and her faith never made its ends when she seeks solace in the arms of her father. Yes, give it up for a girl-child; we rock!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT 11 OCTOBER?
Discrimination and violence against girls and violations of their human rights still happen. The United Nations (UN) felt a need to raise awareness of the challenges that millions of girls face every day. In December 2011, the UN declared that it would annually observe the International Day of the Girl Child starting from October 11, 2012. The day gives people and organisations the opportunity to raise public awareness of the different types of discrimination and abuse that many girls around the world suffer from. On this day, many community and political leaders talk to the public about the importance of girls’ rights to equal education and their fundamental freedoms. Various events are held to showcase the work that people are engage in to empower girls through active support and engagement with parents, families, and the wider community. However, the day is not a public holiday, it is a UN observance. So, no lounging around today, go to work/school. lol.
So, since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the United Nation’s international day of the girl-child. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls’ face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. For the year 2018, the theme is: With her: A Skilled GirlForce. The current generation are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and technology and it would be a disaster to be unprepared for the transit.
According to United Nations, the theme; With Her: A Skilled GirlForce, International Day of the Girl will mark the beginning of a year-long effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.
WHAT IS STATISTICS SAYING ABOUT THE GIRL-CHILD?
The struggle to make the world a better place to live in and enjoy to the fullest for the girl-child is still on-going. Yet, the statistics published bi-annually, yearly, quarterly indicate that there are more lands yet to be conquered for the girls in the world. The United Nations reported that of the one billion young people (including 600 million adolescents girls) that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.
According to the facts gathered by the Plan International, UNICEF reported that each year, approximately 12 million girls under 18 years will be married; that is 32,877 each day, nearly 1 girls every 2 seconds. Early or forced marriage hampers the education and health of the child. More so, UNESCO reveals that globally, more than 130 million girls are not attending primary or secondary school. Every day, girls around the world are denied their rights to education and the knowledge, skills and opportunities to create a better and a bright future. On a flip side, World Bank reported that for every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 11 percent. Educated girls have the knowledge, skills and opportunities to create a better future for themselves and everyone around them and the World.
Furthermore, worldwide, 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner. In the same vein, 1 in 2 women murdered were killed by their partners or families in 2012 while only 1 out of 20 of all the men murdered were killed in such circumstances. There are a lot of statistics one can lay hold of to show challenges the girl-child had to experience every day, the dilemma and the vulnerability is so worrisome.
SO, WHAT AM I SAYING TODAY?
I read a write up written by Mpho Mpofu on the Life of an Africa Girl Child, her words were like an arrow pierced in my heart and I felt like reaching out to hold every girl-child that has undergone one terrific moment or the other. The write up was personified; however, the writer might not be the victim here. In the piece, life was wonderful at birth but as she grows up the feeling of the scorching heat of the African sun and the pains that surround the girl child becomes a reality.
When I was eight, I started to make sense of the world; though I was young I looked up and always believed in myself to be the great person that I wanted to become. Unfortunately, that is not how the world saw me. The world saw me as a weak girl growing up to belong in the kitchen and look after the house. This world wanted me to be dumb and speak only when asked and never stand up for myself for I was (am) a girl child. This is really not what I have in mind, I was outspoken and to me the sky was the limit, what world turned me into was not really me. However, the world gave me something that no one could have given me, in every pain and suffering it gave me God who I called unto for courage.
She was abused by her father and also married off to a man (her father’s friend) at age 15. Her supposed husband became a master leaving her to nothing but a slave chained by circumstances. She had to learn how to read and write from the boys that go to school. Now, I feel like…never mind.
Today, I call to all girl-child to gird their loins not for battle but to stand up for what is good for them. I call unto the global community to help the struggle for total equality and equity among humanity; it is time for a girl-child to be free like a bird. Enough of the world giving us air to breathe and not to live, it is time to have a safe haven. Could anyone ever match up the versatility that a girl holds by just being herself?
This day is a call to all girl-child out in the world, vow to be proud of your gender and make yourself dignified in ever spheres of live. In any field you find yourself, be the good example worthy of emulation. Don’t just see the sky as the limit; it is the starting point of the heights yet to be climbed. It is time to live beyond just survival. To all the girl-child in the world, you rock. Break a leg!
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Omolola Lipede (The Talking Pen) is a contributor to The African Progressive Economist and the opinions expressed here are her own. She is currently an Economics post graduate student at the University of Ibadan.