International Day of the Girl Child 2020: My Voice, our Equal Future
Oct 2, 2020
International Day of the Girl Child brings attention to addressing the challenges girls are facing worldwide, and promoting girls’ empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights.
What we celebrate today began 25 years ago at the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing. The countries in attendance unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which sought to not only advance the rights of women, but specifically girls.
In one of the Declaration’s chapters it speaks to the gender bias girl’s face, paints a data-driven picture of the negative cultural effects of that bias, and gives an actionable framework for governments to promote and protect the rights of the girl child.
Then in 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child. Finally, there was a formal recognition of girls’ rights and the challenges girls face around the globe.
This year’s theme is My Voice, Our Equal Future. We’re thrilled about this year’s theme as it directly applies to the potential of the girls in Uganda, one of the East African countries in which Asante Africa works.
Bringing the Wezesha Vijana (Empowering Ourselves – in Swahili) Program to the Girls of Uganda
Similar to other parts of East Africa, girls growing up in Uganda face enormous challenges that can include female genital mutilation (FGM), early childhood marriage, and high teenage pregnancy rates which can also contribute to a high rate of maternal death when proper healthcare is unavailable.
This year, as we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, we’re highlighting the girls of Uganda in order to shine a light, help address some of these challenges, and bring much needed assistance to the forefront.
Often the educational path for girls becomes obstructed because associated cultural or health factors become hurdles to their learning. In fact, a VSO report showed that in northern Uganda approximately 35% of girls drop out of school because of early marriage and 23% drop out due to pregnancy.
Asante Africa Foundation has a well established reputation of working hand in hand with parents, male peers and local community based organizations in East Africa to help girls get the education they need – for themselves, their family, their country and the world. Taken literally, by supporting and focusing on the girl’s voice, it helps our equal future.
The Wezesha Vijana Program accomplishes this through collective attention on:
- Reproductive right, sexual maturation and personal safety education for girls
- Providing safe spaces for girls to learn
- Fostering wider communication between parents and daughters
- Building peer support networks and clubs for girls, resulting in higher confidence and a multiplying effect among peers
- Engaging boys to support girls as allies
- Teaching girls the dynamics of savings and economic empowerment
Through this program girls have shown increased knowledge on body maturation and puberty, with 85% of participants reporting that they confidently attend classes during menstruation. Also, 89% of girls at schools involved with the program have demonstrated an improvement in academic performance.
In the spirit of International Day of the Girl Child, and together with the local community, we’re excited to grow Wezesha Vijana to help support the girls of Uganda and their families.
Spotlighting Girl Success Stories
Looking at some of the East African youth in action inspires us to extend the reach of our impact to more girls in Uganda. Here’s a look at two girls who are helping themselves gain an education and become the next leaders and entrepreneurs.
Gaining Your Education in the Middle of the Night
My name is Laurine. I am 15 years old and currently in form one. I am the middle child in a family of five children and I am one of the Asante Africa Foundation scholars. I am a survivor of forced marriage and the incident took place when I was about 12 years old. My father is the one who planned a marriage between an old man and I. At the time, I was living with my mother and my father sent a motorbike to pick me up and take me to my father’s home. A traditional wedding was planned to take place the next day. Luckily, my mother got me out in the middle of the night by asking a male relative to take me to my aunt who lives in the nearby town. We walked the whole night and reached my aunt’s home the next morning and thereafter my aunt took me to school. I am now in high school after securing a scholarship with Asante Africa Foundation.
Empowered to Improve Lives
Lillian Nansamba of Uganda participated in the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) summit in December 2019 and became empowered to support the less privileged in her community. She partnered with Gayi Paul and created the Give to Life Foundation to support people with disabilities, the elderly, and vulnerable youth. Their foundation seeks to improve the lives of these groups by providing basic necessities. Lillian and Gayi hope to motivate more youth to become change agents.
Ways to Support Asante Africa and Honor International Day of the Girl Child
October 11 falls on a Sunday this year and there are ways large and small to help honor this day. Here are a few ideas:
Host an event: Having an event (it doesn’t have to be big) where girls have an opportunity to get together, build sorority, share stories, learn and grow can make a difference in their lives. Be flexible with your ideas, the underlying goal is the empowerment of girls.
Spend some time: The pandemic has forced all of us to slow down and spend more time together. Spend some time with the girl/s in your life to learn what they’re thinking about and working on so you can help, whether it’s just by listening or offering advice and support.
Donate: As mentioned earlier, Asante Africa Foundation is expanding the reach of the Girl’s Advancement Program within Uganda. Our goal is to place 50 new girls in the program by October 12. In order to do so we need your help! Please donate what you can to help these efforts. Your money will help us provide needed communication and education resources.