The International Day of the Girl Child is a globally recognized day to celebrate every girl child. The girl child has come a long way and we couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved, the obstacles conquered, and the miles she has covered to get here.
From the streets of the West to territories in the North, South, and East, the girl child is a force to reckon with. She moves with gait and grace, in a society that has over and over again struggled to diminish her. When we think of the girl child, we see a powerful being who stands tall amidst life’s constant pummels. She is constantly fighting the odds to ensure that her voice is heard in the cacophony of many other voices.
The girl child has gone through the furnace to become the gold she is today and taken a step further to impart millions of girls all over the world.
Through the issues of child marriages, illiteracy, sexual assault, trafficking, domestic violence, unequal gender pay and many more, the girl child has found a way to navigate through life – brazen and determined to leave a print of her name in the sands of time.
The history of the girl child in Nigeria is one that kindles our hopes in the ability of humans to evolve and adapt to better change.
For thousands of years, millions of Nigerian girls have been told they belong to the kitchen and ‘za other room’. They have been married off at very tender ages to become wives to older men. They have been deprived of education and many other benefits deemed to be for men only. Their aspirations have been sneered at and they have, in many ways, been restricted.
Today, the narrative is changing…
From embracing education, rejecting early marriages and speaking out against injustices meted out on them, you can find girls at the forefront of the future. The girl child is shattering the glass ceiling and breaking barriers in every sector of the economy. In education, finance, policy-making, entrepreneurship, gender equality and so on, the girl child is no longer taking the back seat.
She has found her voice, she is not scared to dream and she has other girls to look up to.
We have Malala Yousafzai; an education activist and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is fighting for the education of girls.
Leah Sharibu is a Nigerian girl who etched her name in every Nigerian’s heart when she refused to succumb to the bidding of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
12-year-old Marley Dias is another girl changing the face of children’s literature. Tired of “reading about white boys and dogs”, Marley launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks in November 2015, with the goal to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature black girls as the main character. Today, Dias has accumulated more than 9,000 books and has landed a book deal of her own.
Madison Star and Mallory Iyana are ‘kidpreneurs’ who are making waves in the entrepreneurial world.
So, to every girl child, we say this: don’t be afraid to dream.
You can be whoever you want to be. The world cannot stop you, as long as you are determined to push through and fight back. You are unique, beautiful and awesome! So keep living, keep winning and keep speaking out!
Happy International Day of the Girl Child.