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Opinions of Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Columnist: http://thefinderonline.com/

The girl-child deserves better

International Day of the Girl-Child, a day observed around the world to celebrate the girl-child and highlight the various challenges that assail their development and progress, thereby preventing them from enjoying their rights as full and creative human beings fell on Sunday, October 11, 2015.

On this day, efforts are also made to provide new ways, measures and programmes that may be pursued to tackle these problems and challenges.

The girl-child is discriminated against by virtue of her sex. In most patriarchal communities, the structure of the society, its values, traditions and institutions all have an in-built discrimination against women.

Most times, the female child is subjected to street hawking or other petty economic activities so as to raise money to educate her male siblings.

As a result of the vulnerability of the girl-child, she is often sexually harassed by teachers and older men who capitalise on her naivety, thus resulting in unwanted pregnancies, abortion and its attendant consequences, leading to the termination of her education pursuit.

The assignment of social roles and expectations to male or female children made the traditional society in years past to believe that it was not normal for a female child to be educated.

In addition, traditional beliefs to some extent hamper the girl-child’s education.
It ranges from the fact that girls do not carry on the family name like boys. Many girls, especially those in our rural communities, even though have the desire to complete school, become drop-outs due to several circumstances, and mess their lives up.

In the rural areas, girls are still not able to match their male counterparts due to heavy house chores, which make their participation in class low and thus reflect on their academic performance.

One of the major issues which continue to stand in the way of young girls is teenage pregnancy.

If a girl gets pregnant, she should be encouraged to stay in school and supported to return to school as soon as possible after delivery.

It is crucial to ensure that girls and young women are able to participate actively, equally and effectively with boys and young men at all levels of social, educational, economic, political, cultural, civic life and leadership, as well as scientific endeavours.

Appropriate actions must be taken to eliminate discrimination against girls and young women and to ensure their full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms through comprehensive policies, plans of action and programmes on the basis of equality.

The country must pay more attention to gender mainstreaming in such key areas as education, health and employment.

Guaranteeing equal access to and completion of vocational, secondary and higher education in order to effectively address the existing imbalance between young men and women in certain professions is critical.

Traditional beliefs and practices that inhibit the progress of girls in society must be scrapped.