On 11th October 2011, the United Nations declared the International Day of a Girl-child which was later inaugurated on the 11th October the following year. The agenda of the International Day of a Girl Child is to promote girls’ rights, highlight gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and address various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. Gender inequalities include; right and access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care and protection from discrimination, violence against women, child marriage and honor killing.
Nevertheless, in many countries, girl-child discrimination continues to prevail from childhood through teenage all the way to adulthood. In such countries, there isn’t any doubt that the achievement of gender parity has been delayed if not denied. These are the same countries that continue to embrace antiquated cultural practices. These practices include; female genital mutilation, son preference, child marriage and gender inequality, violence against women, honor killing, sexual exploitation sexual abuse among others.
Although these norms are often embedded in traditional or religious discourses thus creating an environment where unequal treatment between boys and girls seems to be acceptable, they strip away women’s autonomy denying their fundamental right to self-determination.
Every time girls are treated as inferior and are socialized to put themselves last, their self-esteem is diminished. Lack of self-esteem initiates a lifelong downward spiral of deprivation and exclusion from the social mainstream.
At this present age, there is a dire need to take initiatives in order to prepare girls to participate actively, effectively and equally with boys at all levels of social, economic, political and cultural leadership not only in the developed countries but across the globe.Today, the percentage of girls enrolled in secondary (high) schools still remains significantly low in many countries. More so, girls are often not encouraged or given the opportunity to pursue scientific and technological training and education. This act does not only limit the knowledge they require for their daily lives; it also minimizes their opportunities of getting employment in the high tech companies.
On the other hand, when girls are less encouraged than boys to participate in and learn about the social, economic and political functioning of the society, it deters their ability to take part in decision-making processes.
In most cases, boys are encumbered by massive disguised misogyny that alters their perception towards girls’ not as precious humans but as avenues for pleasure and sex fulfillment. This is a confection of degradation and peculiar reasoning that makes it more imperative for girls to get more support towards integral sex education. More emphasis should be stressed on girls since they bear more agony in matters of teen pregnancy where more than 15 million girls aged 15-19 years give birth each year around the globe.
Teen pregnancy continues to be an impediment to improvements not only in the education sector but also in economic and social status of girls around the globe. Overall, child marriage and early motherhood can severely curtail educational and employment opportunities and are likely to have a long term adverse impact on these young girls and their children’s quality of present and future life.