Students And Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) joins the rest of world in commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child, a day set aside to celebrate the achievements that have been made thus far in ensuring that the Girl Child is empowered. It is again during this period that we take time to embrace the potential, capabilities and possibilities possessed by the Girl Child. While we celebrate these gains, we also take this as an opportunity to reflect on the prevailing challenges and gaps in the current initiatives to address gender issues among young people and tailor make programmes to avert these challenges.
This year’s celebrations come at a time when the world is under siege from COVID-19 pandemic which has had a negative bearing on the life of the Girl Child. According to the United Nations, emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and particularly domestic violence, has INTENSIFIED and SAYWHAT has been working tirelessly to ensure societies are free of gender-based violence through its programming.
As SAYWHAT we are cognisant of the fact that the Girl Child is in constant need of protection from societal ills such as Gender Based Violence, harmful cultural practices, child marriages and HIV/AIDS. From time immemorial, the girl child has been subjected to submissiveness towards men due to various religious beliefs, patriarchal societies and cultures which are fixed at amplifying silence hence destroying the Girl Child’s potential. We realise the need to continuously arm the Girl Child with skills that will enhance the future they will choose. Provision of equal opportunities enable children to be moulded and groomed to become the best they can be.
In this light, SAYWHAT acknowledges that a better tomorrow calls for collective efforts from the civil society organisations, government and the society as a whole in ensuring that girls are given the opportunity to have their voices heard as emphasised by this year’s theme: My voice, Our Equal Future. Empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families around the world. As an organisation, we pledge to continue to inform, educate and advocate for the empowerment of girls.
SAYWHAT takes this opportunity to embrace its advocacy work in institutions of higher learning, capacitating young women through the Web for Life movement – a movement for female students and young women advocating for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights – to take charge, lead, and be assertive in decision making as well as speaking out on issues affecting them. It is the movement’s mantra that young women (adolescent girls) learn from a tender age to spurn away from the dependency syndrome and be independent yet knowledgeable. Amplifying the Girl Child`s voice secures multiple opportunities for the future. Knowledge comes with power, power comes with responsibility and accountability. The Girl Child’s voice has to be heard so as to achieve an equal future. Together we can.
Happy International Day of the Girl Child!