11 October, a key global moment to celebrate the power of girls and highlight the barriers they face. The united nation adopted the day as “international day of the girl” in December 2011. The theme of the year 2020 was “My voice, our equal future”.
While there are an International Women’s Day and an International Day of the Child, neither of these days recognize or talk the unique position of girls who are discriminated simply for being young and female. They are demanding a free life from gender based violence, investment as leaders of social change, access to health, skills and recognition. Girls are taking action, finding their voices and expressing their visions for an equal future. Each year, hundred of girls from the United States to Thailand including Pakistan step into the roles of media, entertainment, business and politics for a day to demand equal power, freedom and representation for girls and young women. This year girls from across the world sends an open letter to the major social media companies, call for greater action must be taken against online harassment and abuse.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, at the virtual event said, “The health and well being of girls is a priority for world health organization (WHO).” More he says “We have to come together to improve the lives and health of girls, but girls themselves must be at the center of that effort. I am happy to say that we will soon be launching a Youth Council to engage with the leadership of WHO on global health issues.”
They (WHO) strongly believes that working with young people as equals at the local, regional and global levels, innovative solutions they can manage the current pandemic and other challenges now and in the future. To engage young people we really need to find better ways to give them a voice, empower them, resource them to do it, make them a responsible person. Young people need to be a key part of the solution and work jointly with their communities and health authorities to help break the chain of barriers.
About putting girls and their rights at the center of decision-making processes WHO recently organized a virtual inter generational dialogue between girl advocates and high-level leaders, a 15 years old advocate Lubinda from Zambia, gave the statement “If every child can be given the chance to express themselves and talk about issues that are affecting them, then we can have a wide range of voices being represented.”
17 year old Rea from Kosovo mention that “We want new policies that allow girls to speak up every day, not just on special days that mark an international movement”.
There are many girls and young women reaching out for the opening doors and opportunities, there are still a lot of doors that need keys to be opened. A report says, “While much progress has been made in the last two decades to ensure every girl is able to grow and develop in good health, there is much still to do. For example, 12 million girls are married before age 18 each year. One in five girls globally has experienced sexual violence. In Eastern and Southern Africa, nearly 80% of new HIV infections among adolescents are among girls.”
No decision for girls should be made without asking them, is their fundamental right. Through their ideas and views it is clear that an international day for girls will bring global focus to their lack of representation in the global development agenda.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.