On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. Every year this day is celebrated under a specific theme which carries a message of empowerment for the girl child. This year’s theme is — GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable. GirlForce can only be developed through girl empowerment and girl empowerment is only possible if certain obstacles are taken away and in their place opportunities introduced.
This year’s theme of GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable is important for SODEI because we work to inspire and empower youths through education. The advancement of the girl child is one of the overarching themes under which SODEI operates.
Youth advancement is important but the stakes are higher on the part of the girl child, who has to grow up in societies which have defined roles for her and are not always able to accommodate her success. Furthermore, harmful practices, such as child marriage and gender-based violence hamper the growth and development of the girl child. Educating the girl child is different and a lot more difficult because it is imperative to teach her not to bow to societal pressures or subscribe to roles of subordination predefined for her. It is time for the girl child to benefit from every opportunity available to her, to work to become upstanding members of society and make informed choices for their future. We owe it to future generations to raise an upright generation of girls and young women who will break boundaries and stereotypes to emerge as strong women.
According to Carol Bellamy former UNICEF Director, Girls’ education is the single best investment that any society can make.By educating a girl child we ensure that she grows up to be an empowered woman.The example of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish girl who is acclaimed Schoolgirl Climate Change Warrior who advocated for and is still advocating for better environmental conditions is definitely to be emulated. This is an ordinary girl doing extraordinary things. UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres affirms that girls all around the world around the world are proving to be unscripted and unstoppable. Unfortunately, this is not true for every girl in the world.
For the girl child in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon, the last three years have been arduous and difficult. The girl child in these regions has been increasingly exposed to physical, mental, moral and social dangers due to the anglophone crisis. During their formative years and as they grow into womanhood, girls need to be empowered. Today’s girls, are tomorrow’s women, future professional’s, future society builders, future pillars of society, future problem solvers, future representatives and future leaders amongst other things.
To ensure that our girls and young women reach their full potential, we all as a society have to make sure to provide, education, health and safety especially for those in the disturbed regions of Cameroon. As the UN Secretary General says, “girls can be powerful agents of change and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life”. This means girls can participate in and facilitate peace building as equal members of society. Let us as a society stop limiting the girl child to roles in the home and around the community and encourage them to take up roles in leadership and problem solving. To empower our girls to be part of the meaningful and sustainable change we need in Cameroon, we need to give them proper knowledge and guidance, so that we raise confident and skilled women.
SODEI uses this opportunity to reiterate the importance of the education of the girl child, the value of the girl child now and in the future. It is important to create and maintain the conditions necessary to build and secure a future for the girl child and for every other child. The celebration of this day is meant to focus attention on the distinct challenges of the girl child and to promote the realization of their human rights. SODEI will continue to echo the prioritization of equal access to education for all children and encourage the participation of youths in matters of development and community building. Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 on gender equality targets the end of all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. By commemorating this International Day of the Girl Child, we reinforce our commitment to involve youths in the North West and South West in initiatives to remove the culture of discrimination towards woman and girls, to build the GirlForce.