Girls have over the years shown enviable strength, resilience, character, will, and ability to break through mitigating barriers, setbacks, and limitations that war against them, and contribute to global discussions and development in their own ways.
Girls survive bullying, and poverty, among others, in their educational pursuits and break glass ceilings on the academic front. Girls survive accessibility challenges and poor health services and prevail to survive and live to fulfill their dreams. Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at those with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. Regardless of the barriers that they face, girls wield an undying force and power that pushes them on.
The resilience of girls to persevere and make impacts in their homes and communities presents an urgent need to invest in girls’ rights and support them at all costs. Girls can lead in diverse ways to ensure the continuity of the planet if the right amount of investments are made in them. Increased investments, attention, and resources in girls’ rights, in all their diversity, will enable them to realize and achieve their full potential and this can go a long way to contribute to the attainment of the SDGs. This is necessary and urgent now because much of decades of progress on girls’ rights have been eroded by the Covid 19 pandemic and it is being exacerbated by current global economic challenges.
Globally, access to education for all girls is still a challenge. According to the UN, nearly 1 in 5 girls are still not completing lower-secondary and nearly 4 in 10 girls are not completing upper-secondary school. In worse cases, a girl’s access to education is completely denied. UNESCO reveals that poverty remains a barrier to girls’ education, particularly for girls in rural poor and hard-to-reach communities. Currently, the climate crisis which is becoming the greatest threat to humanity, disproportionately affects women and girls, even more. Girls in farming communities who feel the adverse brunt of the climate crises have to sacrifice their education to provide care and support to their families. The UN reveals that girls aged 5-14, globally, spend 160 million more hours every day on unpaid care and domestic work than boys of the same age.
Girls have the right to healthy lives throughout their formative years. Lack of access to quality health care still persists and hinders girls from reaching their full potential. Access to essential health services, including sexual and reproductive health, in many instances, has been cut off, particularly, for girls. A UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2022 report indicates that nearly half of all pregnancies, totaling 121 million each year throughout the world, are unintended, mostly due to a lack of choice in decision-making regarding reproductive health.
The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. This year’s commemoration highlights the theme “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being”
To invest in girls’ rights, leadership and stakeholders must move beyond reaffirming global commitments to investing boldly in the action needed to make a change. Girls deserve all the attention, investments, and resources to reach their full potential and lead to sustain our shared environment now and for future generations.
Happy International Day of the Girl Child!