Let's join hands and support our girls

The world marked the International Day of the Girl Child on Wednesday.

The day aims to promote girls’ human rights and highlight the challenges they go through. This year's theme was: "EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict".

According to a UN press statement, “every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence".

In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking.

Adolescent girls in conflict zones were 90 per cent more likely to be out of school compared to those in conflict-free countries, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence. That cannot be far from the truth, basing on what happened in Kenya after the August polls.

Brutally hit

Across the world, the girl child was still disadvantaged and went through a lot of struggles even as various initiatives were being set up to empower them. In Kenya, for instance, in the state-instigated violence following the August polls, the girl child bore the brunt.

There was the widely reported story of the six-month-old baby Samantha Pendo, who was brutally hit by the security apparatus on the head when they terrorised the safe haven that she and her parents called home in Kisumu. She later succumbed to the injuries. It was such a sad ending.

There was a report of another girl by the name Stephanie Moraa, who was shot while playing on their balcony, as the police were engaging in running battles with peaceful protestors.

There were also a lot of cases of babies who were allegedly trafficked or killed for superstitious purposes. Back in Tanzania, child marriage was still a big issue with the law pegging it at the age of 14 with consent from court, or 15 with consent from parents.

Back to school

And that is not just the issue, teen pregnancies were still a serious problem, especially following President John Magufuli’s order that pregnant girls should not be allowed back to school as they would initiate others into immorality.

In Uganda, cases of femicide have been reported, especially in the lakeside city of Entebbe.

In Cameroon, news has it that a pregnant woman was being held in the prison and many more sad tales about the girl child. In southern Africa and other nations across the continent, girls were still missing school because they lacked sanitary towels.

Also, sanitation facilities in some schools did not make it easier for girls during their monthly periods.

However, all was not lost as many were coming up with various initiatives to uplift the girl child. I know of girlfriends who have delivered sanitary towels to schools in their communities.

Expected results

There were those who had come together to educate more girls to pursue their dreams.

And there were those, like my own sister and I, who had chosen to mentor a few girls and help them with the little they have.

Many opportunities were being made available to girls and they were indeed bringing the expected results. The media have also played a great role in highlighting both the plight and the challenges girls faced. That way more girls were becoming more self reliant and able to break from the poverty shackles.

They were now able to take bold steps regarding the course of their lives. I believe we can all join hands and support our girls.

Twitter: @JanetOtieno

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