By Constance Ndeleko
This year, under the theme, “My voice, our equal future”, let’s seize the opportunity to reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls – energized and recognized, counted and invested in. |UNICEF|
In 2020, we also commemorate 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the global agenda for advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.
This year’s celebrations are adopting a new style due to the world wide pandemic that is forcing us to take relevant measures to protect ourselves and others from contacting the virus.
As we strive to combat this unseen enemy covid-19 measures have led to multiple consequences in regards to the rights and welfare of girls and women in the society.
Young girls have been forced to work as laborers- house helps to fend for their families, some have been forced in as commercial sex workers, reports have indicated a high increment of teen pregnancy, sexual assaults and violation, early child marriage, numerous girls at the risk of being cut/FGM, child prostitution either online or offline and many other forms of violence against girls due to closure of schools.
Globally, adolescents constitute two thirds of the total population. This is a huge proportion of the world that is growing up quickly and is faced with unique challenges such as child marriage.
Child marriage is a violation of human rights that robs young girls of their right to health and to choose if, when and whom to get married to. Increased burden of unpaid care work has seen families marry off their daughters in a bid to inject funds into the already resource constrained family coffers.
Schools served as not only safe havens for the girls but also a place where they were guaranteed at least one meal per day given the school feeding program in resource constrained settings by the government.
In times of crisis, when resources are strained and institutional capacity is limited, women and girls face disproportionate impacts with far reaching consequences that are only further amplified in contexts of fragility, conflict, and emergencies. Hard-fought gains for women’s rights are also under threat.
Reports state that, by 2021 around 435 million women and girls will be living on less than $1.90 a day — including 47 million pushed into poverty as a result of COVID-19.
At least 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. Emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and particularly domestic violence, has INTENSIFIED.
COVID-19 is unravelling decades of progress for girls’ equality and has set us all back in countless ways. But for girls in crisis across the world, it’s done more than just set them back.
Covid-19 is keeping girls from choosing what happens to their own bodies and from enjoying equal rights. It’s keeping girls from everything they’ve worked so hard for.
The pandemic has forced as to adapt new measure in order to catch up with life itself. It has forced us to embrace technology in order to move forth with our day to day activities. However, inequalities are still being felt where girls tend to be overburden with chores.
Internet connectivity is still a challenge for most African families to access as it also comes with the cost of buying gadgets and internet which is not cheap for one to access online education.
Education empowers girls for life and work. Globally, in 1998, there were more girls of secondary school age out of school than boys (143 million girls compared to 127 million boys). Today, there are 97 million girls of secondary school age out of school compared to 102 million boys.
Girls from the poorest households or living in fragile or humanitarian settings are not benefiting from the expansion in education, while the girls who are in school are struggling to secure the quality education they need to compete in a rapidly changing workforce, where digital and transferable skills, like critical thinking and confidence, are indispensable.
However, technology has also opened up opportunities for girls to grow their networks and learn digital and transferable skills that will prepare them for life and work.
The best advocates for girls are girls. Every girl is a powerful agent of change in her own right. When girls come together to demand action, shape policies, and hold governments to account, we can together change our schools, families, communities and nations for the better,
As adolescent girls worldwide assert their power as change-makers, International Day of the Girl 2020 will focus on their demands to:
-Learn new skills towards the futures they choose
-Lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change|UNICEF|
Girls are rights holders and equal partners in the fight for gender equality. They represent a tremendous engine for transformational change towards gender equality.
Also in a bid to promote equality, Generation Equality was also launched in early 2020 as a multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality. A clear narrative and actions related to the needs and opportunities of adolescent girls and their solutions is central to the Generation Equality mission.