• Oct 12, 2021 . 2 min Read
  • Day of the Girl Child theme discriminates against rural girls

Day of the Girl Child theme discriminates against rural girls
Admin .
@New Vision

David Labeja

Over the years, the world has commemorated October 11 as the International Day of the girl child, with the main objective of actualizing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

This actualization can be achieved by assisting and supporting young girls have access to better health services, equal opportunities in education and a world without gender-based discrimination or violence.

The initiative began as a non-government, international plan of action to address the challenges faced by young women. In 1995, at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, the need for an event focused on young and vulnerable girls was identified. A resolution to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011

But this year’s theme (Digital Generation. Our Generation) falls short of accommodation the real victims of gender-based discrimination in Uganda, especially in rural Uganda where poverty levels are skyrocketing by the day and access to services are not sensitive to equality of gender and social strata. In fact this year’s theme discriminates against rural girls. It must be remembered that women and girls were already victims of discrimination in one way or another.

The COVID -19 pandemic indeed changed the status quo and as the rest of the world is sitting in front of laptops and their smart mobile phones to catch up with work and study programs, the future is bleak for millions of rural girls in Uganda. With parents out of jobs over downsizing and the unreliable rain patterns for full time farmers, parents of these youngsters can neither afford to buy study tables nor sustain the data/airtime required for the study. Although government made efforts to provide lessons on TVs and radios, electricity reach is still limited to urban centers leaving out vulnerable children whose parents do not own Tvs and radios.

This has made vulnerable girls to be pushed off the margins, and have become victims of sex offenses such as rape, defilement and forced marriages. According to a March 2021 Westminster Foundation for Democracy policy brief to the Parliament of Uganda, “The emergency measures and realities dawned by the COVID-19 pandemic expose women and other vulnerable sections of the society to negative impacts such as rise in maternal mortality rates, challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health services, domestic violence, increased poverty, gender-based violence and an escalating teenage pregnancy problem”. Indeed, a Ministry of Education official Nelson Ayo said in September 2021 that over 90,000 girls under the age of 18 got pregnant during this period when they were not going to school.

In Lamwo district alone, media reported in June that up to 17,000 school girls got pregnant. This, as girls and other young adults in major Ugandan cities and the developed countries spend longer time on their computers and tablets to access education services, learn new skills and earn revenue.

Government needs to re-strategize and partner with community-based organizations (CBOs) and national NGOs to support this group of vulnerable girls to stay informed and able to have equal access to education and health services. With most of its staff based in the communities, CBOs can identify real issues and come up with workable solutions for the girl child which helps to improve the quality of future mothers of the nation.

The writer works for Te-Kworo Foundation (https://te-kworofoundation.org/)

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