My Voice, Our Equal Future
Support girls.Henrietta Holsman Fore
Listen to girls.
Help girls realize their dreams
UNICEF Executive Director
International Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the UN, started in 2012. Aims at Increasing awareness of inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. There are many challenges: inequality caused by lack of access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and forced child marriage. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. 2020 also saw the launch of “Generation Equality” a multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality. Activities related to the needs and opportunities of adolescent girls and their solutions are central to the Generation Equality mission.
Some of the facts are horrifying and worrisome:
Nearly 1 in 4 girls is neither employed nor in education compared to 1 in 10 boys. 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence. India has 930 females per 1000 males. In absolute terms, India has 48.2% female population compared to 51.8% male population, put in actual numbers there are almost 5 crores more males. Can you imagine the type of social imbalance and the consequences it creates? In many of the countries, there is discrimination in daughters’ rights to inherit property, in either law or practice.
Young girls have the right to safety, education, and healthy life, not only during the formative years but also as they travel into womanhood. If effectively supported, girls have the potential to change the world – as of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals has the focus of Gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Woman: the embodiment of sacrifice and ahimsaMahatma Gandhi
Ancient Hindu scriptures indicate the importance of women in society:
her ability, intelligence, and patience (Karaneshu Manthri, Kshamayeshu Dharitri).
Reverence to women has always been professed, and women kept at the top, recall:
“Matha Pitha Guru Deivam” (“Mother Father Teacher God”).
Unfortunately, despite all these, discrimination is rampant in India. Preference to boy child leading to female foeticide, discrimination by family members, sexual exploitation is all there to see. Government has come out with excellent schemes be it “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” or measures for women empowerment. A lot to be done, at best we can say it is work in progress.
Progress for adolescent girls has not kept pace with the realities they face today, and COVID-19 has reinforced many of these gaps. Available data indicates that COVID-19 pandemic brought enhanced violence against women and girls and particularly domestic violence. It is estimated that around 435 million women and girls are being pushed to poverty in the coming one year and COVID-19 pandemic making the situation difficult.
Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.
This year’s Noble winners are an inspiration.