On October 11 of every year, The United Nations celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child. It is a day when the UN works around the world to empower women and girls and raise awareness on their rights, advocate for the adoption and implementation of laws and policies that prohibit and prevent child marriage, and mobilize communities against the practice. The theme for the day of the girl child this year is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement” and Ibadan Insider is celebrating every girl child. As a result, our guest post for today is from Joy Iwezu, a freelance writer and commentator on social issues and in this post she wrote for Information Nigeria, she talks about the girl child and breaking the glass ceiling she has been placed under.
When I think about the girl child, I think about me. The Girl Child is a powerful being that possesses unique traits and characteristics that make her not only a woman but a force to be reckoned with in a world where strength and virtues are on a constant decline. There is more to the Girl Child that meets the eye; she is more than a wife, a mother, a sister; she is the channel through which the balance of human existence is built upon. She is a life giver and the sole connection between the idea of life and life itself.
With all of these in mind, one will expect that the Girl Child will be the most respected and accomplished being across nations taking giant strides in the different sectors available within her immediate environment and beyond but this is not the case in our present day society. Today, the Girl Child is marginalized; she is abused, relegated, shoved aside and given the second place where first can be attained. Her gender has become the unacceptable standard with which her accomplishments are weighed.
This is the GLASS CEILING that must be pulled down; it is the veil that separates the Girl Child from becoming all that she can be. There is an innate greatness in every Girl Child, it is like the light described in the bible that can only shine when displayed rather than hidden and it is a light of greatness that should be encouraged from infancy to adulthood.
In a bid to celebrate the Girl Child, the United Nations marks an observance day known all around the world as, The International Day of the Girl Child on the 11th of October every year, the first of which was celebrated in the year 2012. This observance day, advocates more opportunities for girls, increased awareness on gender inequality, the right to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care and all round protection for the Girl Child. For the celebration each year, the day of the Girl has a theme that reflects the urgency in getting the Girl Child to her pride of place. In 2015, the theme was “the power of adolescent Girl; Vision for 2030”. The efforts by the UN in raising awareness all over the world is quite laudable as, people are becoming more aware of the need to empower the Girl Child yet, the Glass ceiling remains. How can this board of restriction hovering over her be removed for good?
A major path towards girl child recovery today lies in our established mothers, women, sisters and aunts alike. As today marks International Women’s Day 2016, it is sad and totally unacceptable that women still pull women down in a cycle where everything is benign at them. It mocks the question of what women really want for themselves of they cannot support and lift themselves from the glass ceiling placed on them. Domestic violence, forced marriages, rape incidences, child trafficking, kidnappings, the baby mama syndrome, prostitution and other immoral sorts are soaring at alarming rates and it is time women stand for women and be their sister’s keepers against these vices. We must look beyond the flummoxed objectivism the world has placed on us and partner to rise continuously out of the murky waters. Some of the ways we must act include –
“EDUCATION IS THE GREATEST EMPOWERMENT”
What better way to empower the Girl Child than through the greatest tool of all time; An Education. The importance of gaining an education as a female in a world that has been strongly dubbed “a man’s world” cannot be overemphasized. Educate a girl child and a whole nation receives the benefit that comes with it. When talking about an education, it goes beyond the boundaries of cognitive knowledge and the four walls of an educational institution. I believe education is an unending process of learning where the mind is constantly stimulated to produce ideas that will ultimately affect the course of one’s life and society in a positive way.
In most countries in Africa, the Girl Child doesn’t have complete access to the cognitive part of education. This is as a result of certain factors that has bedeviled the African continent for decades. The cognitive is just the foundation for the stimulation of the mind and if this isn’t accessible then how can the Girl Child begin to think? How can a strong woman emerge? How can she use her imagination to solve problems within her sphere of contact? How can she make notable innovations that will affect the course of history? These are questions that need answers. I was born into a family of six with four children (all girls) and all through my life, my parents made sacrificial efforts to give my sisters and I an education at least to the best of their ability. This move of theirs has become the bedrock on which my motivation to succeed as a woman lies. Every Girl Child should have a motivating factor that can make her dream, imagine and become a success story. Thus, armed with the cognitive skills and motivation, she can shatter the glass ceiling that society and circumstances have placed before her.
“INTELLIGENCE + CHARACTER. THAT IS THE GOAL OF TRUE EDUCATION” Martin Luther King Jr.
Societal ideology and self-motivation are two factors to consider in breaking the Glass Ceiling. There is an erroneous assertion in some societies that the most notable achievement/accomplishment a woman can get to is marriage. In our country Nigeria for instance, a woman is deemed not have “arrived” in the comity of women if she hasn’t “put a ring on it”. This has become a sold out lie that has affected the output of some women and driven young girls into early marriages without requisite understanding of tenets and principles. I quite agree that marriage is of utmost importance and every girl should aspire to start up a family of her own someday. However, this shouldn’t be the basis on which her success should be measured. A woman must be seen for her independence, managerial skill, astuteness, intellectual diversity, integrity and an exuding calm charm. When a Girl Child has been raised her whole life to believe that all she can amount to in life is a wife/mother then she no longer gets motivated. This curse, especially on the African continent must be revoked and given to extinction. Thus, there is a need for a complete change in what we tell our daughters. We must get them to believe in the power of their dreams and the possibility it holds by helping them remove the ‘t’ in can’t. The sheer determination and power of a strong girl / woman in our world are a force that even men attest to. How about when we come together with that same power to form a bond? The benefits will be immeasurable.
From My Darling Mother to Genevieve Nnaji, from Wangari Maathai to Malala Yousafzai, from Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde to Ese Oruru, From WAJE the songstress to the many upcoming girls finding their path to womanhood, motivation must be our lot. The women above have carved a niche and built solid rocks for themselves without being culturally inept. We are strong and can rule the world positively if we can come together. It is why it is pertinent that a lot needs to be done in the empowerment of the Girl Child. The groundbreaking achievements in the world today of the above few points towards that a strong girl conquers. The Girl Child must look to these women as role models, follow the trail of excellence they have left behind, study their accomplishments and begin her own pursuit of greatness. Our women we celebrate today must begin to teach us, inspire and as well give us a level footing for our aspirations.
The Glass Ceiling can be broken. The limitations can be dissolved and greater things can be accomplished by the Girl Child even in the face of opposing factors. The Girl Child is a special being created by the almighty to give the world the balance it needs. I strongly believe that with an education (in mind and in school), with societal support of her dreams and a renewal of her imagination, she can become all that she was created to be and more.
A Happy International Women’s Day to the Strong Women in Our World. Continue to SHINE!!!
Joy Iwezu writes from Warri, Delta State. She is on Facebook as Joy Iwezu and on Twitter as @Missifyfelix
For More posts from Information Nigeria, you can read more http://www.informationng.com/2016/03/empowering-the-girl-child-to-become-a-woman-breaking-the-glass-ceiling.html