…All hands must be on deck to protect the girl-child—NGO
By Ebun Sessou
Over 90 percent of adolescent girls may face little or no pay, abuse and exploitation when they start working. The United Nations stated this at this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.
But, if all the agents of socialization would rise up to their responsibilities, there are possibilities that the narrative might change.
This was why this year’s theme, “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce,” seeks partners and investors to advocate and fund ways to make the globe’s 1.1 billion girls more empowered and employable.
As today’s generation of girls is preparing to enter a world which is being transformed by innovation and automation, they will be faced with adversity to getting the educational training needed to enter into that workforce.
By the United Nations standard, October 11 is significant and such its relevance should not be swept under the carpet.
The essence of the Day when established in 2012, was to address gender inequality that young girl children face, and to protect their human rights.
For instance, the issue of teenage pregnancy, rape, sexual harassment, right to education, health, governance among others are expected to be addressed in this regard.
Unfortunately, as year goes by, the challenge the girl-child passes through on a daily basis cannot be over-emphasised.
According to the United Nations investigations, 12 million girls under 18 are to be married within the calender year, and 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years will become pregnant in developing regions; most of those pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted. And a quarter of young people, mostly female, are neither working nor getting an education or job training.
So when the world’s 600 million adolescent girls begin entering the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector as vendors, artisans, among others that are unregulated, where they will make little to nothing, and where exploitation and abuse are common.
Speaking against this background, Mr. Temitope Musowo, President of Blossom African Initiative, an NGO, on Sustainable Development Goals and Development Expert from the Centre for Sustainable Goals, University of Ibadan, noted that ensuring that a girl-child does not become a victim of sexual harassment and all that has been projected by the United Nations, it becomes the duty of all the agents of socialization including the religious organizations, media, CSOs, government, peer groups, family, parents, every agent of socialization that has to do with the upbringing of the child must come together to ensure that the girl-child is trained on how to believe in herself to be able to challenge every institutional decimation and cultural misogynous that established the philosophy of a woman only being seen and not being heard.
In an interview with WO, he lamented that, the standard of gender inequality embraced by different institutions should be ignored.
“The standard we met on ground should be disabused and the girl-child needs to be trained to be able to challenge the culture.
“And these have conscripted to a situation whereby the girl-child believes that she is not naturally designed to achieve certain things in life and if she goes on with this mindset, it would limit her goals and aspirations.
“We need to disabuse the mindset of the girl-children of all these cultures and religious beliefs that limit their potentials, so that they can become better. All the agents of socialization has a role to play in this regard to be able to reposition them to rise to academic, economic and career significance and giving them the mindset that whatever their male counterpart achieve, they can achieve more regardless of their gender”, he said.
Musowo further explained that “Being a girl-child does not mean you are mentally inferior to your male counterpart or that you are limited. It is just a matter of mindset that you need to challenge.
“The area of equal educational right should be given to the girl and that is why the goal 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is talking about gender equality, giving equal opportunity to the girl-child so as to be able to compete favourably in whatever situation they find themselves having been prepared holistically to be able to handle such talent so as to be able to come out strong”, he stated.
Asked if the goal 4 can be actualized, he said, if all the agents of socialization mentioned live up to their responsibilities, it is possible.
According to him, “The girl-child is exposed to things around her which hitherto make up who she is. There is nothing that pull a girl-child down if her psyche has been energised from cradle. Gone are the days when people’s mindset is conscripted to believing that the role of a woman is in the kitchen
“Parents should understand that both the male and the female child should be given equal opportunities so that they can grow up to becoming resource persons in the society. Nothing should stop the girl-child from believing that, she cannot be greater than her male counterpart.
“Every religious belief that is limiting the girl-child is not consistent with the 21st century and it should be done away with. It is not consistent with the goal 4 of the United Nations on gender equality to which all the countries including Nigeria among 157 nations signed in 2015 which came up with the 17 sustainable development goals. Therefore, any nation which holds on to the belief that the girl-child should not be given equal privilege with her male counterpart, is not consistent with the truth and it should be done away with.
“Government at various levels should establish policies that is concerned with the issue of the girl-child and the girl-child herself needs to believe in herself that there is nothing she cannot achieve in life without gender limited”, he said.