Help girls achieve their dreams


THE quote ‘a girl should be two things – who and what she wants to be’ is what every parent dream for their daughter.
Sunday was International Day of the Girl Child and there are many reasons why it should not have gone unnoticed.
Unfortunately, the day went by without much fanfare in Papua New Guinea.
The above quote by Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel a pioneering French fashion designer trend on life lessons.
A girl-child needs all the protection that society can give her as they are very vulnerable, psychologically easily confused.
In some societies they are rebellious and prone to make rash decisions.
Adolescence, especially for girls, is a dangerous stage of life in many countries.
It is common to find girls as young as 12 being married because parents regard them as unnecessary burdens or commodities to be exchanged.
Few months back, PNG media reported about a 19-year-old young female whose battered body was brought to the city’s hospital allegedly by the two children’s father and partner.
This caused uproar even well beyond the country’s borders, especially by gender activists.
But that is just a drop in the ocean of what young girls go through, and not only in countries where women are discriminated.
Those are practices mainly based on culture and can be tolerated to some extent.
But when a young girl is deprived of education – like in the case where today 130 million girls are out of school – or young girls are trafficked as sex slaves, it should be treated as an epidemic.
The world cannot afford to sit back as if it is none of its business; it has the responsibility to protect.
Back in 1995, the world adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most comprehensive policy agenda for gender equality – with the vision of ending discrimination against women and girls.
But today, 25 years later, discrimination and limiting stereotypes remain rife.
Girls’ life expectancy has extended by eight years, yet for many the quality of that life is still far from what was envisioned.
Girls have the right to expect more.
The realities they face today, in contexts of technological change and humanitarian emergencies, are both remarkably different from 1995 and more of the same: with violence, institutionalised biases, poor learning and life opportunities, and multiple inequalities unresolved.
Today, no matter where a girl lives, she is at risk of encountering violence in every space – in the classroom, home and community.
And the types of violence she will come into contact with have become increasingly complex with the rise of technology.
However, technology has also opened up opportunities for girls to grow their networks and learn digital and transferable skills that will prepare them for life and work.
Once girls have gained the right tools and the space to strengthen their engagement and leadership, they will be well placed to shape the world around them, opening doors for them to be at the heart of decision-making processes that affect their lives.
As those who want change, it’s our duty to bridge the generations, working with and for today’s girls to raise their voices and achieve their dreams.
Every girl is a powerful agent of change in her own right.

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