THE POWER OF THE ADOLESCENT GIRL: THE GIRL CHILD by Uwisike Blessing

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As the world once again marks the International Girl Child day, we are reminded of the vital role that the female figure plays in the society. Today, attention is once again drawn to the plight and unfortunate condition of the millions of marginalized girls in the world; marginalized by culture, tradition, religion, class and egoistic perception by the patriarchs in the society they find themselves in. While it is worth celebrating that thousands of girls have found their identity and voices in a culture that once stifled their freedom of expression, millions of other girls are still held bound by this same limitations, hence the need to reiterate the power of the adolescent girl.

This profound statement by the United Nations Foundation President, Kathy Calvin that ‘Girls are one of the most powerful forces for change in the world: when their rights are recognized; their needs met,  and their voices heard, they drive positive change in their families, their communities and the world’, cannot be truer. It holds the essence of the girl child, and the changed they are capable of driving when all their Human Rights are fulfilled.

 

The Girl Child is powerful. She has dreams and abilities that if wielded will disrupt the status quo in the patriarchal society she finds herself in. She has foresight; she is intelligent; she is a born leader. When she arises,  she makes things happen; once she finds her voice, she would not be silenced; she would not take no for an answer. Contrary to how she is perceived to be a weakling, she is strong. She is a formidable force. In situations when she has to grapple with her male counterparts for a position, if given equal opportunity, she is bound to come out on top. Could this be the reason why she is threatened? Could her potential and latent strength be the reason why the chauvinists she is surrounded by want to squish her and relegate her to the background?
Millions of adolescent girls all over the world are perpetually intimidated. They struggle with child marriage, unwanted pregnancy, female genital mutilation, exposure to rape, violence, and bullying, afterthoughts where education is concerned, and are raised with the mindset that the place of a woman is in the kitchen and bedroom. All these stifle the power and expression if the adolescent girl.

The need to empower the Girl Child cannot be reiterated enough. But not just the girl child now, older members of the society need to be sensitized on the need to protect the girl child and her rights, she must no longer be excluded from major functions and positions. She must no longer be discriminated against. She should be invested in, and benefit from targeted programs which focuses on meeting their needs. She must not be forced into child marriage anymore and perpetrators of such crime must be brought to book. She must not be forcefully impregnated. Female genital mutilation must be completely banned.

 

 

 

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In line with the SDG4 aim to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”, the girl child needs to be given priority in education. Both private and government agencies need to be more deliberate about empowering the female adolescent, and ensuring that she gets the equal right to education like her male counterparts which she so deserve. It is worth noting that if every girl child is duly educated, there would be no illiteracy in the world, and this will spur on development in every aspect of the society like never before.

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