Two years ago the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution adopting 11th October as the International Day of the Girl Child. The day promotes girls’ human rights, brings to the fore gender inequalities that exist between girls and boys and addresses the different forms of discrimination and abuse inflicted on girls around the world. Educate a Child in Africa (ECA) commemorated the third edition in its Limbe office, the South West Region of Cameroon under the theme “Empowering Adolescent: Ending the Cycle of Violence.
Sustainable development can only be attained if the process of development involves people of all walks of life regardless of their gender. According to Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, “girls are a powerhouse of talent, creativity and potential”. Considering this, it is therefore absolutely necessary to protect girls from all forms of violence since a girl child whose rights are violated upon is incapacitated.
Educate a Child in Africa observed the third edition of the International Day of the Girl Child by organizing an open forum for girls, who were selected from twenty different communities to talk about the forms of violence that affect them and possible solutions. The occasion began with a prelude from Educate a Child in Africa’s COO, Asaah Gideon. He walked through the significance of the International Day of the Girl Child while Syntia Kwalar presented the different forms of violence common in the African Society, inter alia, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, sexual exploitation, prostitution and trafficking. The forum offered a huge platform for the young people to learn about the different forms of violence, share their experiences and also know where violence can be reported. The occasion was graced by the presence of Arthur Iyok, a Cameroonian film Director whose movies always put the girl child on the spot light in so far as education is concerned.
The majority of young girls in Africa hardly report rape cases. During this forum young girls testified that they had been victims of rape but were ashamed to report it. They believed that exposing the situation would instigate ejection from their homes. Some of them even acknowledged that they had been witnesses of violence, especially in their schools.
In order for girls to reach their full potential and contribute to the development of the African society, they have to be constantly sensitized about their value in fostering societal progress. There is therefore a need for the multiplicity of platforms for girls to talk about the challenges they face and how these barriers can be broken. In the forum, the girls kept on reiterating their plight, the most important of them being access to educational facilities. The occasion also saw the presence and participation of six boys who represented six different communities of Limbe.