International Day of The Girl Child: Reflections

The world consists of 1.1 billion girls. This is an undeniable potential for future greatness. If the potential is harnessed properly, girls will be drivers of exponential development for generations to come. However, the statistics demonstrate that girls around the world have the disadvantage of being discriminated against in one way or the other. They are marginalized and victimized by society. One in three girls in the developing world gets married before the age of 18. In these cases, the girl child is deprived of education and often exposed to sexual assault and violence from a very young age.

In almost all aspects of life, girls still face unfair conditions. In developing climes, education opportunities are limited for the girl child. She is not certain of finishing school; in many cases, she is not sent at all. She is promised to an older man at birth as his wife; she has no say in the matter.  She is married off at the age of 10-15, and must bear the pain of childbirth while she’s still a child herself. She is subjected to unnecessary, unsanitary and life-altering genital mutilation, despite the dangers this practice means for her health. She is victimized, hurt, degraded and even beaten if she as much as tries to assert her humanity. She is seen as a soft target for molestation, less than a human being with choices.

Even in developed regions, the girl child also faces challenges. She is stereotyped and marginalized, made to go above and beyond the efforts of her male counterparts to prove her worth. She is encouraged to go into areas of education that are not tech or science oriented. She has to suffer sexism, the undermining of her abilities and belittling of her intelligence.

The inequalities surrounding the girl child in our world today constitute a grave human rights violation. Girls are historically under-utilized in our society, and in this era of development, it is imperative now more than ever that female children be accorded the same significance as male children. Girls have equal ideas, experience and intellect to bring to the world stage. The saying goes that when you train a girl, you train a nation. The educated girl becomes a mother much better equipped to rear a successful family. We must do better by girls in our society, acknowledge their worth, and groom them equitably for a chance in life.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. Let us stand up for the girl child today.