Every year we globally mark the Girl-Child Day and promise to ensure the girls within our communities would have a better life expectancy, the ability to live to their fullest potential with their rights to education, health, nutrition, employment honoured. We pledge that they will not experience any form of violence, discrimination and other denigrating forms of abuse.
Then, we turn on the news or read an article and the same girls we have pledged to protect have fallen victim to violence, child marriage, child labour, human trafficking, conflict and we once again take the mantle and promise more shall be done to right the situation.
Being A Girl in today’s global society has become a casualty of circumstances …an after-thought as families decide who should go to school or work, who should play or do housework and/or tend to younger siblings. The corona-virus pandemic has exacerbated the situation as many girls will never see the walls of a school let alone a school yard. Their brilliant futures have been forever altered as they become full members of the marginalised fifty per cent who do seventy-five percent (75%) of unpaid work.
Being A Girl means there are cultural and religious attitudes and practices which dictate their development and future. Their human rights are merely words and their child rights are secondary or unrecognised because their existence is based on their ability to mature into women capable of birthing, caring and offering gratification to their male counterparts.
Being A Girl results in a marked proportion of children falling victim to human trafficking, child labour, child marriage and all manner of indescribable forms of exploitation at a disproportionately higher level than their male counterparts. Their beautiful bodies are sold and wrecked before maturity by the cruelty of those who see them as no more than a commodity to be bought, sold and mutilated to suit their desires and economic benefit.
Being a Girl is more than a footnote on a calendar. It requires a mindset shift which eliminates all forms of discrimination, violence, exploitation, harassment and negative cultural and religious practices.
Being A Girl is a commitment to ensuring nutrition, education, health and the ability to gain skills and training which empower and leverage individual potential.
Being A Girl is a beautiful gift of strength, brilliance and joy which families and communities should uphold and cherish.
Being A Girl is the assurance of continuance of society which should be beholden.
Being a Girl is maturing into a dynamic Woman of Substance who can participate socially, economically and politically in her society and contribute to the development of her country.
Being A Girl means becoming an empowered and informed Woman who takes a seat at the table to express herself and be part of the conversation and decision-making as an invaluable member of society.
Being A Girl is Being A Woman whose sense of equality is celebrated and acknowledged.
© Dr. Ama Onyerinma, Founder & Executive Director Live Abundantly!®