Former president Joyce Banda has called for an emphasis to be placed on girl children. in a quest to see them back to school after the devastating effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
Banda was speaking at a virtual conversation organised by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in commemoration of the International Day of the girl child.
The International Day of the Girl Child – which falls on October 11 -focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
Banda, who was Africa’s second-ever female president and the first female president of Malawi, urged Non-Governmental Organizations, women networks, and the civil society to work with governments to ensure that girls go back to school after the virus pandemic.
She has at the meantime asked African governments to abolish harmful tradition practices that hurt the girlchild and stand in the way of her education.
“Traditional leaders should take the lead in ensuring that their communities are adhering to laws against discrimination of the girlchild’s access to education,” said Banda.
Banda, who was minister of gender and child welfare in Malawi before serving as president from 2012 to 2014, took the opportunity to ask the international and donor community to work on economic recovery program that will benefit all the people including the girl child.
“The international organisation and Aid Agencies should support developing countries to implement the recovery programs including programs that have a direct bearing on a girl child.
Secondly and most importantly. It has been announced that the 2% richest people have become richer during the pandemic, I am making an appeal that they should invest their money in contributing towards a fund that UNESCO should administer to ensure that organisations that provide,” she said.
Banda bemoaned the devastating effects of Covid-19 calling for concerted efforts in the healing process.
“In the last seven months we have seen an increase in child marriages, teen marriages, an increase in poverty and an increase in gender-based violence. In one district of Mangochi in Malawi, 15,000 girls have gotten married, some have fallen pregnant at a very tender age. Let us join hands in the healing process,” Banda said.
She commended Malawi government for allowing girls who have become pregnant to return to school after giving birth.
Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, political leaders and mothers. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.
Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO, and the support of young girls, their training and their full ability to make their voices and ideas heard are drivers for sustainable development and peace. In too many cases across the globe, teenage girls drop out of school, due to forced marriages or child labour. UNESCO is committed to celebrating this day to ensure that all girls have access to quality education and a dignified life.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :