Celebrating the girl child
In response to the call to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11th, 2013.
Being a global citizen and a patriotic Malawian, celebrating the 11th of October meant a lot to me. I love the themes that cut across the celebration like that of UNICEF, the World Bank, Every Child, Plan International, The Girl Effect, UN Women, Camfed, the Global Fund for Women, and many more. Nonetheless, the “girl rising” theme, which read “Educating girls transforms societies,” caught much of my attention. As a young person, I witnessed how a certain lady used to give out small amounts of money and other basic necessities in our community (like sugar, bread, relish, and clothes ) whenever she visited her home village annually regardless of whether one was a relative or not. She told people that it was simply a sense of belonging. This therefore implies that if five or ten girls from the same community get educated, our communities will be improved, hence the need to get creative to do little things that matter to keep girls in school.
In commemorating this day, a lot of civil societies planned different and unique activities to bring together various girls from all walks of life. A good example is that of Girls Empowerment Network (my placement organization) in Blantyre, Malawi, which assembled girls at the civic center garden from a number of Blantyre based schools. The girls heard motivational talks from speakers from all sorts of life careers ranging from lawyers, military officers, education specialists, renowned radio personalities, among others. This was simply meant to motivate the girls to build their self-esteem and expose them to these great minds, so that they could look up to these models in our societies and embark on a journey of becoming one. I was very excited about these activities, as they acted as a forum to empower the girls by taking away the doubt of not achieving great things simply because one is a girl.
In the same spirit of celebrating the girl child, calling for a stronger protection of her rights, I would like us all to stand up and unite, even months after the 11th of October, to help girls realize their potential of becoming whoever or whatever they want to be by building stronger school structures and creating conducive learning spaces in their schools. This could include doing a little something for girls at Makanjira primary school in Blantyre for them to have better sanitary facilities and avoid any form of harassment from naughty boys and other villagers passing by the facilities, which are not fully covered. Girls lamented that this is a contributing factor to their dwindling interest in staying at this school (according to the snappy survey I had with girls at Makanjira primary school in remote Blantyre).
Not only that, but I would also propose the activity of helping with education costs by providing cheap but neat school uniform clothing to our celebrated, struggling girls. Personally, one thing that has made me confident and given me high self-esteem since I was young (even now at my work place or any social gathering) is that moment when I have put on a beautiful and exquisite outfit going with a pair of stiletto heels. Guess what? I will do my super crab walk(cat walk), raise my head and shoulders, and speak very accurately and in a composed manner because I know that I am 100% good. It is the same thing with the younger girls we were celebrating on October 11th. For them to become whatever, achieve those dreams and goals they have, we need to raise their self-esteem through provision of nice uniforms. Once they are nicely dressed, they will freely participate in various discussions at school like I do in my social and professional spaces. They will also raise their heads, shoulders, and hands to ask or answer a question in class because they will know that no one will boo them for their poor uniform that day.
In preparation for October 11th, I managed to look around for little things I and any well-wisher/friend could do as a spectacular celebration of a girl child in order to help her stay in school and eradicate child marriage cases (see the attached pics).
THE BIGGER CELEBRATION EVENT : DOING LITTLE THINGS THAT SOMEONE WOULD LIVE TO REMEMBER
Saving k80 (less than US $0.25) a week initiative: If 2,000 of us could do this for 10 weeks, we could raise k1,600,000. That’s around $4,000 US dollars, which we can use to buy good clothing, especially the decent uniforms and plastic shoes that needy yet hard working girls would wear and be confident in in schools. It would also contribute towards 70 community-led school sanitary facility buildings at a number of schools in Malawi and worldwide, hence improving access to quality sanitary care. Hmmmm, it’s just an amazing thought.
Determined to wear a school uniform, which is torn and short for her, one of my little friends took an old blue skirt and put her uniform on top every day at Mchenga primary school- Blantyre,Malawi.
A bubbly, grade 6 needy girl who aspires to become a medical doctor one day but needs someone’s hand to get there.
One of the 4 classes that learn under a tree (the tree which does not have much shade) due to the shortage of classroom structures at Gumeni primary school in Blantyre.
Down the bluegum trees, there is a path which local people use and coincidentally look at girls in their sanitary facility (which is not covered) at Makanjira primary school, Blantyre.
Front view of the girls’ toilet.
How prone girls are to be seen by boys who love to peep through these not close knit grass sanitary facility at Makanjira primary school, Blantyre.
Another sample of an awful sanitary facility at a school in Mzimba in the northern part of Malawi.