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Opinions of Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Columnist: Magdalene Dorto

International Day of the Girl Child: Rhetoric or action?

International Day of the Girl Child is observed on October 11 International Day of the Girl Child is observed on October 11

As today marks International Day of the Girl Child, we must not just celebrate it by spelling out the challenges faced by girls and women concerning their education, health, and rights. This should be a day to discuss everything about the Girl Child and demand more actions to solve all these challenges.

As usual, there will be a lot of social media and traditional media engagements today. Obviously, it is not out of place to create awareness of the challenges facing girls, including gender discrimination, sexual exploitation, sexual violence, and many others. But my humble question is; how will the deprived girls who are being denied the right to education be able to benefit from all these Twitter storms, Facebook life, and Instagram life? In the end, what impact can these events make?

I want to use this opportunity to appeal and urge governments, Civil Society Organizations, Multilateral organizations, and other youth groups to demand and take action now. Let us change the approach and make sure we are tackling real issues at the grassroots. It should not just be about collecting data and taking pictures and videos as evidence of or reports and statistics of work done. It is about time we started to consider and pay more attention to girls like me who stay in rural communities and deprived villages. Many of us do not go to school, some do not even know their rights. The majority of girls cannot be reached with social media engagements.

It is pathetic to know that some girls have had to stop school because of sexual harassment from teachers. How can we discover all these happenings if not at the grassroots?

State institutions must work. I urgently call on all stakeholders to take immediate action to ensure that we reach the equal future we want. We must immediately eliminate sexual exploitation in schools by conducting secret investigations to expose and punish offenders. Until we can assure the abused of their safety, they may not report their offenders.

Also, state institutions must ensure that provisions are made for Girls Living with Disability, including the hearing impaired, since they are mostly abused but cannot tell what happened.

In conclusion, I call on all stakeholder to channel their resources to do more outreaches to deprived communities and constantly keep in touch with deprived girls to help demand and protect their rights.

Thank you.

The writer is a Youth Activist and Member of the Youth Action Movement.

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