Girls around the world are being celebrated on October 11 every year, which is the International Day of the Girl Child, initiated through a United Nations General Assembly, 25 years ago.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted by some 30,000 women and men from nearly 200 countries in the Fourth World Conference on Women.
Since the declaration, the platform has remained the most comprehensive policy agenda and reference for Gender Equality across the globe.
WUZDA Ghana, as a Non-Governmental Organization operating in Women and Girl Child empowerment recognizes the need to push for policies that positively affect the rights and well-being of women and girls.
This year, our focus has been on activities that directly affect the career choices of young girls from the Prisons School Complex in Tamale, Ghana.
This idea stems from the theme for the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child this year; “My Voice, Our Equal Future”!
Our focus this year gave rise to a local working theme “Building Resilience in the Wake of COVID – 19 Pandemic, the Role of Stakeholders in Girl Child Empowerment”.
With funding support from our partner, Mundo Cooperante in Spain, WUZDA Ghana lined up some activities for the girls celebration, including radio talk shows involving the girls themselves talking about issues on Early and Forced Child Marriages, Girl Child and Social Rights in general.
There were other activities involving excursion to the National Broadcaster in the Northern Region, GBC Radio Savannah and Sagani Television, both in Tamale.
The girls were shown how the systems of radio and TV work, from the engineering rooms through to the broadcast studio, as well as how presenters, journalists and show hosts need to conduct themselves to deliver a successful and an enviable radio or TV show.
The climax of our event celebration of the IDGC took place at the Pastoral Center in Tamale, where the 100 girl beneficiaries of the “Right to be a Girl – After 24 Years Before Marriage” Project implemented at the Prisons School Complex.
The event, which was christened “Experience Sharing Session on Fighting Early Forced Girl Child Marriages”, had a young lady we chose to name Nasara, share her story to the girls, of how her father, with monetary interests, gave her out for marriage to a man over 70 years old.
Gender Desk Officer, Miss Kaawie Felicia, introducing Nasara to girls explained to them what informed the decision to change her name and hide her face, as saying it is to avoid any form of victimization from society, since she is still a minor.
Nasara was only 16 when she was forced into marriage, and still is.
Nasara managed to abscond the man’s house and got timely help from WUZDA Ghana.
Nasara was hidden from her family members for over 5 months, as investigations were being carried out by the DOVVSU of the Ghana Police Service.
Dropped out of school, Nasara’s dream has always been to enroll in a skill training exercise of weaving smock, which she is doing now, after all the dust settled on bringing together all family members who were hitherto in support of the marriage, to a realization that Nasara is still young and not ready for marriage.
The girls were both amazed and shocked after Nasara shared her story, as they asked questions about how she was able to gather courage to say no to the man’s advances during her stay in his house.
Program Manager of WUZDA Ghana, Mr. Ziblim Abdul Karim advised the girls to stick to their books and learn as much as possible to avoid failures in school, which sometimes contributes to parents concluding formal education may not be for a girl, but rather marriage should be her future.
He admonished the girls be time conscious in responding to school and home activities, as it is a sure way of better preparing oneself for the job market.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Mr. Ibrahim Abdul Ganiyu, reminded the girls about important it is for them to listen to their parents and respond swiftly to what they are asked to do, to allow for them to stay committed to instructions.
Media practitioner with Radio Tamale and moderator of the session, Muniru Bariyah, herself working and married, took the girls on a step by step journey of how important it is for a girl to reach the age of marriage and have economic reliance for herself before getting married.
Media and Communications Officer, Shaibu Awudu reminded the girls of how significant the International Day of the Girl Child is to stakeholders, but added that all the expectations of stakeholders cannot be met without the girls paying attention to all the empowerment activities carefully thought through and crafted for them.
He asked the girls to learn harder so that by next year at the celebration of the 2021 IDGC, they will be celebrated as advancing into the next stages both in Junior and Senior High Schools.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action calls on the global community to
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls.
- Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls.
- Promote and protect the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potential.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training.