Today, we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child. The theme of the celebration is “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.” Why the Girl Child? You have that answer deep in your heart. While the day is dedicated to the Girl Child, every child is precious and deserves every guidance and great opportunity possible.
Following the theme, our focus is on the Adolescent Girl, this year. Besides personal experience, as parents and guardians, we can attest to the struggles, confusion and curiosity that goes with this state of life.
The age range is generally between 9 and through to 19. Depending on how early the physical and psychological changes begin to happen, adolescence could begin around 9 years or a little later.
The call this year is that we all join our voices together in highlighting the unique challenges and potential of adolescent girls. Some of the unique challenges include, inequalities experienced during her secondary education, threats, female genital mutilation, violence, discrimination and her safety and protection as a female child.
For a girl, she begins to experience changes in her body, discovers herself as an individual, and notices the strength in her emotions. She gets more conscious of her physical looks. With this, she seeks approval and acceptance. Now, with all these and possibly many more happening with her and around her, adolescence is indeed a peculiar time in her life.
We can all begin from our homes, families and neighbourhood. Do you have an adolescent around you, within your influence? We all need to pay particular attention to the girl child within this stage of life. What are her needs? Sit with her from time to time and talk with her. Help her understand the changes in her body and see the need to make the right choices for a better and bright future. Have discussions around pregnancy, rape and safety issues. She will be glad to get that attention and will open up.
This is a stage in which she tends to bottle up a lot in her heart. She needs a listening ear and an empathetic heart to hear her out. She should not be relegated to the background, yet made to do all the house chores alone. If she is the biological child of someone else, please treat her as you would treat your own child too.
We cannot deny her education for any reason. Someone somewhere can help to support her education. This is an obligation for everyone who earns something, that you support the education of an adolescent girl sometime somewhere. Forcing her into early marriage denies her of an important period of self-growth, self-discovery and the development of her psychological and physical wellbeing.
The experiences she goes through at this stage largely affects the kind of young woman she soon grows into. This in turn affects many other choices along the way, which in turn affects family and society, for good or for bad. Hence, it is a very important stage that we all need to befriend her, ensuring that she is guided aright and positively influenced to be the person she is meant to be.
She is not too young to be successful. She can be an entrepreneur. She can explore her talents and potentials. We can help her learn new skills that will give her more confidence to face the future. She can be a happy and independent woman, with great moral values.
Congratulations to US ALL on this Day of the Girl Child!
Thank you Parents and Guardians for all our efforts
and sacrifices to nurture the Adolescent Girl.
It is always worth all the trouble.
- Linda Ellah
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