Malawi joined the international community to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child 2015 under the theme ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030’.
The day was celebrated with commemorations in Salima and Dedza, two districts under the UN Joint Programme on Girls Education (JPGE), implemented by UNICEF, UNFPA and WFP, and supported by Norway.
The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated each year on 11 October since the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 in 2011.The first celebration was held in 2012.
Since then, women’s and girls’ rights organisations and institutions around the world celebrate the day each year to recognise girls’ rights and the challenges they face as well as galvanise voices to tackle those issues.
The current generation of adolescents are part of the largest youth generation in history – and the future rests in their hands. As a group, adolescent girls can be a formidable force to create a better world. With the right investments, support and interventions, adolescent girls have the power and potential to transform families, communities, nations and the world.
However, girls in Malawi continue to be treated less favourably than boys in many aspects of life: Less girls finish school, adolescent girls are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, and more girls experience some form of sexual abuse in their life.
International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to increase awareness on the inequalities faced by girls worldwide and across Malawi, and an opportunity for girls to show leadership and develop their full potential.
The celebration in Dedza started with a speech by 15-year-old Dorothy, who invited everyone to treat boys and girls equally, both in class and at home.
“Chiefs, teachers and parents should work together to create a better place for girls to learn,” she said, and called upon all girls who are married or have babies to come back to school in order to achieve their dreams.
The commemorations gave an opportunity to the pupils to perform, sing and dance. Talented young actors showed how education benefits girls and what can be done against child marriages.
Songs found creative ways to describe the importance of education, as girls sang: “our teacher gave us a catapult to kill illiteracy” and “education is my husband”.
Clara Chindime, girls’ education officer at UNICEF said at the commemoration: “Every girl has the right to an education, without letting marriage, violence or other barriers get in the way. When boys, teachers and parents are supportive, nothing should stop girls from going to school. The UN, government and civil society are all working together to realise girls’ right to education.”
The UN Joint Programme on Girls Education is implemented in both EliyaChimtengo Primary School in Dedza and Katete Primary School in Salima, where the celebrations took place. This programme aims to improve access and quality of education for girls, using a Child Friendly School model, while providing effective referral pathways for abused girls, as well as youth friendly health services and school feeding.
Through the training of mother groups, the community also plays an important role in increasing access to second chance education.
Another core component of the JPGE programme is tackling violence through UNICEF’s partner Ujamaa Pamodzi. This organisation empowers girls to defend themselves against violence and also has a curriculum for boys, in which boys learn to respect girls and defend them against violence.
Gender equality is not just about girls, it’s also an issue of boys and men. Violence against girls harms not only the victim, but also their family, community and the entire society. Boys can speak out, and many of the boys who were attending the commemorations this weekend took the HeForShe pledge.
This initiative from UN Women invites men to stand up in addressing inequalities and discrimination faced by women and girls. The boys who signed the HeForShe pledge promised never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against girls and women, a good step towards creating a more sustainable and equitable society, where girls can develop their full potential and shine.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :