As the world marks the International Day for Girl-Child, a pro-women’s rights organization has called for more voices to be given to the girl-child through breaking of silence on societal stereotypes attached to the female gender.
Speaking with WHISTLER correspondent in Owerri, Monday, Ogechi Ikeh, Executive Director, Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) called for the discouragement of the culture of silence in ‘our society, where the voice of the girl-child is subdued, leaving her voiceless, powerless, helpless and almost useless in the face of all sorts of violence and abuse’.
According to Ikeh, “We recognize the fact that a young girl’s voice is powerful and very important, and plays a very vital role in determining her future, which is our equal future. Our society is patriarchal, and the norms have relegated the young girls and women to the background, subjecting them to all forms of discrimination, sexual gender-based violence, physical abuse, economic violence, psychological abuse and social deformation.
“With a very poor and abysmal representation of women in decision-making positions in public offices, it has become imperative to encourage women and girls to amplify their voices and break the silence of culture to curb this menace called violence. We promote young girls’ participation in leadership and governance where decisions affecting their future are taken; ensuring that they have access to quality education; preserve their sexual reproductive health rights, and enable them with skills and entrepreneurship; as well as discourage trafficking.”
She added that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) ‘is the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls’, adding that, “Nearly 25 years later, the Platform for Action remains a powerful foundation for assessing progress on gender equality. It calls for a world where every girl and woman can realize all her rights, her full potentials, such as to live free from violence.”
She said some of the measures to safeguard the rights of women include, “Elimination of all forms of discrimination, negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls; promotion and protection of the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potentials; elimination of discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training; avoiding discrimination against girls in health and nutrition, economic exploitation of child labour and protection of young girls at work; promotion of girls’ participation in social, economic and political life, and strengthening the role of the family in improving the status of girls.”
She called on all actors, stakeholders, and government agencies to promote the rights of the girl-child by ensuring that they live free from all forms of violence and discrimination.
Our correspondent reports that the International Day for Girl-Child is held every 11th October. This year’s celebration has as its theme, ‘My voice, our equal future’.