Saturday marked the third year the International day of the Girl Child. Coincidentally, it marked six months since the abduction of over 200 girls kidnapped from Government Secondary School, Chibok in Nigeria by Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram.
The abduction is just one of the dangers a girl-child face in conservative African communities. Every day, young girls dealing with domestic issues as their lives are controlled by a curriculum of socio-cultural activities that dictates and suppress a promising future.
To draw the attention of the world to this social injustice, the United Nation launched the International Day of the Girl Child to raise awareness of the challenges that millions of girls face every day – not only in Africa but in other parts of the world.
“The observation supports more opportunity for girls, and increases awareness of inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence and un-free child marriage.”
To mark the third year of this annual social call, we have compiled quotes from leaders around the world, mostly from Africa. Their words are expected to serve as an inspiration and spur us into action on the need to invest more in the Girl-child, enmeshed with the potential to leads Africa to a progressive socio-economic future.
“Women and girls are Africa’s greatest untapped resource, and it is they, not diamonds or oil and minerals, that will be the foundation for solid, sustainable and equitable progress. Health and development experts, economists, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and even banks agree that expanding the freedoms, the education and opportunities for women holds the key to kick-starting inclusive economic growth. This is true the world over, and particularly true for Africa.” – Mozambique’s former president, Joaquim Chissano.
“Everyone wins when children — and especially girls – have access to education. An educated girl is likely to increase her personal earning potential and prepare herself for a productive and fulfilling life, as well as reduce poverty in the whole community. Investing in girls’ education also helps delay early marriage and parenthood. Our booming economies in Africa need more female engineers, teachers and doctors to prosper and sustain growth.” – Angelique Kidjo.
“If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a community.” -African proverb.
“Educating girls and giving them the tools to shape their own future has an incredible multiplier effect on economic growth. It leads to increased prosperity not just for individuals but for their communities and their societies. It provides returns for decades.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity. For every woman forced into unprotected sex because men demand this, we destroy dignity and pride. Every woman who has to sell her life for sex we condemn to a lifetime in prison. For every moment we remain silent, we conspire against our women. For every woman infected by HIV, we destroy a generation.” – Nelson Mandela
“There has been a great deal of injustice done to more than 50 per cent of the world’s population. And we need to do something about it. I mean it’s stupid! It’s stupid for us to sideline 50 per cent! What is wrong with your mathematics? Fifty per cent you shove to the side. It doesn’t make sense at all!”- Desmond Tutu.
“I am not always happy seeing children out of school; it is a signpost to poverty and bleak future. We need involvement of first Ladies, mothers, School owners and all change-agents to ensure that the girl-child is allowed to have quality education and acquire skills that would make her a wholesome person to herself and the nation at large.” Nigeria-American prodigy, Oduwole Zuriel.
“One of the most important steps countries can take to drive progress is to ensure and improve the political, economic and social rights and opportunities of women. Africa has achieved notable economic growth in recent years. To be sustained, that growth must be inclusive, and translate into concrete improvements in the lives of women, men and children.” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark.
“We know that girls’ education is vital because educated girls become better mothers, have fewer, healthier children. Every additional year of schooling reduces the probability of child mortality by 5-10 per cent.” – UNICEF’s Communication’s Specialist, Geoffrey Njoku.
“An empowered woman is a productive woman, a health seeking woman, and therefore a woman who can be entrusted with the survival and wellbeing of herself and her family.” –Toyin Saraki.