Here we are in 2023, once again marking October 11th and rallying for girls worldwide to be treated with the dignity they deserve. It’s The International Day of The Girl Child, a day we celebrate alongside the global community. As we look at the path ahead in Nigeria and across Africa, it’s crucial to recognise the progress we’ve made in empowering and educating the girl child.
The International Day of the Girl Child is a powerful spotlight on girls’ unique challenges and a fervent call for equality in every facet of life. This year’s theme, “Our Time is Now—Our Rights, Our Future,” couldn’t be more timely. But why should we prioritise the girl child this year, you may ask?
The current violence statistics against girls and women are dreadful, and we must act quickly.
- Every 8 hours in South Africa, a woman is killed.
- In Iran, male relatives do an estimated honour killings of 400-500 women every year.
- One in three women in Nigeria has experienced physical violence before the age of 15
- One in six girls who have experienced sexual abuse experienced it in school.
- Due to financial constraints, 37 million Nigerian women and girls of menstruating age do not have access to sanitary pads.
“I often emphasise the concept of the ‘power of the purse’ because it represents a woman’s ability to achieve economic liberation and sustenance, enabling her to advocate for herself and her rights more effectively.” – Efe Ukala.
The boundless potential of the girl child is a spark waiting to ignite change. Each girl carries dreams and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. But too often, they find themselves navigating a labyrinth of challenges. These hurdles include, but certainly aren’t confined to:
Lack of Education
The heartbreaking reality that many girls are denied access to high-quality education continues to exist in all corners of the globe. This denial isn’t just a coincidence; instead, it’s the product of a gloomy confluence of elements, including poverty, deeply ingrained cultural expectations, and the threat of an early marriage that hangs over their lives.
The result of this educational exclusion is really worrying. Not only are courses missed, but also a future with constrained prospects. Girls’ access to possibilities that ought to be their birthright is restricted by the unending cycle of lack of education, which links them to the chains of poverty.
Girls’ progress is persistently thwarted by the burdensome weight of gender-based discrimination, an obstacle that’s hard to ignore. It paints a challenging landscape where opportunities are far from evenly distributed, whether through subtle biases or glaring inequalities, leaving a mark on countless facets of life.
“Women often have to put in double the effort and invest twice as much time, yet they don’t receive the same recognition as their male counterparts.” –Njideka Akabogu.
The apparent inequality girls face in the workplace when making decisions and participating in public life is one prominent example of this discrimination. They frequently encounter only partially open doors, preventing them from entering careers and places where their skills and abilities may flourish. This mismatch impedes both their individual development and the advancement of civilisations as a whole.
Girls frequently encounter difficult circumstances where they are exposed to various forms of gender-based abuse. These heinous crimes, which include physical, sexual, and mental abuse, not only cause immediate physical and psychological injury to the victims but also plant the seeds of fear and insecurity that may linger all their lives. Such acts of violence leave permanent physical scars on the victims and harm their mental health and self-esteem, making it difficult for them to live fulfilling and independent lives.
These offences support a terrifying culture in which girls constantly fear for their safety and self-respect. They are forced to negotiate a world where their fundamental human rights are frequently ignored because of the constant threat of violence, which casts a shadow over their hopes and aspirations.
What Can We Do?
“Women make up 70% of the workforce in the agriculture sector in Africa, yet the number of women who own land on the continent is still below 20%. Unlocking these women’s economic potential can transform Africa’s economy.” – Efe Ukala.
Empowering the girl child is our ticket to a fairer, more balanced world. This investment is a multi-faceted endeavour, starting with ensuring access to top-notch education, safeguarding their physical and mental well-being, and fostering supportive social networks. When girls are educated, healthy, and empowered, they transform into catalysts for change, dismantling outdated norms and propelling entire communities forward.
This investment carries both a moral and an economic weight. The potential for economic growth in a world where girls thrive is mind-boggling, measured in trillions of dollars.
So, you might be pondering, “How can I contribute to the empowerment of the girl child?” We’ve got you covered with a list of non-profit organisations dedicated to the noble cause of empowering and educating the girl child. It’s time to join this global movement for a brighter tomorrow.
- Audio Girl Foundation: The Audio Girl Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing the presence of women in the music creation and professional sphere. They are focused on empowering and equipping young African girls and women with the skills and knowledge in the audio technology and music business. Donate here
- Dream Catchers Academy: This academy fosters a large number of girls. They engage in extracurricular activities like dance, farming and sports. They also run a school supporting the girls in meeting the country’s standard curriculum. Donate here
- Let It Shine Academy: Owned by Damilola Feyide, this non-profit organisation is fully funded by its owner and donations. They are focused on providing proper education for disadvantaged children who are often on the streets or are less privileged. Donate here
In the face of the daunting challenges women and girls confront, their resilience and untapped potential shine brightly. Investing in the education, health, and support systems for girls isn’t just about them—it’s about all of us. It’s like planting seeds of hope that can grow into a better future for everyone.
This movement knows no borders; it’s a global call to action. It’s about breaking down barriers that hold girls back giving them equal access to education, healthcare, and support. It’s a way of saying, “We believe in you. Your dreams matter, and we’re here to help you turn them into reality.”
So, whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or someone who cares about a fairer world, you can be part of this change. It’s about shifting policies, fostering supportive communities, and empowering one girl at a time. Join us in this incredible journey of transformation!