International Day of the Girl Child will be observed today (Wednesday) throughout the world. Annually October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child declared by the United Nations. It was first observed in October 2012.
The purpose is to highlight the plight of thousands of girls and provide more opportunity for them while increasing awareness of the gender inequality they face worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to and access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care and protection from discrimination, violence and forced child marriage.
While issues concerning the girl child exist all over the world especially in under developing/developing countries, in some places it is worse than in others – for instance in our own country where women are held in low esteem by many and gender inequality is rampant. Speaking generally, from the day they are born – especially if it’s a first child – there is no rejoicing but an air of gloom and disappointment, which is not only something that happens in poor, uneducated families but surprisingly in many of the so called ‘educated’ ones!
Anyway, according to some reports progress has been achieved toward gender equality in basic education but more remains to be done as today’s challenges for improving girls’ education, skills, and job prospects have changed. Attention needs to be given to what happens before and after primary school. For girls and young women to acquire the skills they need there needs to be a conducive environment, as well as encouragement, both at home and in the institutions where they study.
In areas where there is discrimination against girls, parents need to be told repeatedly that girls are as good as boys and deserve an equal opportunity to prove their worth for the benefit of the family as well as the country. Nutrition as well as other amenities should be equal for boys and girls. Child marriages should be discouraged firmly and the law dealing with violations should be strictly enforced as they hinder girls’ empowerment and are against their fundamental rights.
A number of initiatives have been taken for improvement in the life of the girl child by the private sector but the government has to play its role and make the effort to deal with inequality on a larger scale. Any attempt to improve the situation of girls and women must be supported by an improvement in the socio political aspect of their lives. It is only when girls and women are empowered with equal rights and opportunities that the country will be on the right path to success and prosperity.
Hyatt, Ishrat. International Day of the Girl Child today. The News, October 11, 2017.