Monday, 22 October 2012 10:56

First ever International Day of the Girl Child celebrated October 11 Featured

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This year, we commemorated something quite significant, a possible solution some say to all the problems in the earth...investing in the girl child. The United Nations declared the 11 October in honour of the Girl Child. The first-ever International Day of the Girl Child has been recognized by The United Nations for the first time, after of years of diplomatic work spearheaded by Canadians and the charity, Plan Canada and it’s, Because I am a Girl initiative. The Day sought to highlight challenges that the girl child faces the world over, but specifically focused on ending child marriages, which the Presidency of South Africa rightly stated "This decision was based on the evidence that early child marriage curtails the future of many young girls as they are forced to become young brides rather than further their studies or careers. The practice is a devastating human rights violation that robs many girls of their childhood, education, health and future.”

Social media buzzed with trending topics such as End Child Marriage, and Day of the Girl. Many organisations from around the world pooled in their support for the Girl Child, with governments globally sending out messages of support, however as one article wisely put it, “It is hard to find good news stories on the status of girls globally. Girls are oppressed because of the low value placed on them in too many countries around the globe. The patriarchy is palpable as girls are increasingly under attack. From economic deprivation to social ostracization, oppression of the girl child makes it seem as though she will never win; she will never emerge from under the thumb of her father, brothers and/or husband” says Evelyn Myrie.

A story that was especially poignant was that of the 14 year old activist Malala Yousufzai , who was shot by Taliban gunmen in the head for secretly going to school. It made the importance of the world standing up for the girl child that much more important. Malala has been an activist fighting for the rights of girls to go to school and has sparked various campaigns in support of her plea. Over 75 million girls are not in school world wide.  In developing regions, 97 girls were enrolled in primary or secondary school for every 100 boys — an improvement over 1999, when 91 girls for every 100 boys in elementary schools and 88 girls for every 100 boys in high schools, according to Plan Canada.

“There’s still 75 million girls (of school age, under 16) missing from school,” said Rosemary McCarney, president and CEO of Plan Canada. “Of those, 39 million are girls missing from secondary school education.”

19 year-old Girls Speakers Bureau member, Saba, illustrated the lived experience, “I have no title to my name. I am just a girl. I want you to picture me placing a huge stonewall in front of you. There is no way to climb it or go around it. Essentially you’re trapped and invisible. ‘Why me?’ you ask. What if I told you it’s just because of your gender? Wouldn’t you feel helpless and vulnerable? This is how many girls feel every day.” It is each of the actions and events centered around the International Day of the Girl-Child that will promote equal treatment and opportunities for girls to get around these “stonewalls” they run into every day.” By AWID Friday Files | Wednesday at 11:24 AM

In South Africa alone, the rate of unemployment for girls aged 15-24 years old stands at over 50% which is alarmingly high. Civil Society globally has joined in the call to fight for the education of the girl child, one of the major keys to unlock the potential of the girl child the world over.

In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we join in this call, to educate girls because it is their equal right, in our country and in every country.

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