Day of (dis­ad­van­taged) Girl

Girls spend 40% more time on un­paid house­hold chores and col­lect­ing wa­ter and fire­wood com­pared to boys

The New Age (Western Cape) - - Western Cape News - TATENDA CHIRISERI prov­inces@the­newage.co.za

EV­ERY 10 min­utes, a girl dies as a re­sult of vi­o­lence, Unicef said while com­mem­o­rat­ing the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl this week where it high­lighted the chal­lenges that mil­lions of girls faced.

Girls be­tween five and 14 years of age spent 40% more time on un­paid house­hold chores and col­lect­ing wa­ter and fire­wood com­pared to boys their age, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by Unicef.

In South Africa, progress con­tin­ued to be made with ad­vanc­ing the rights and op­por­tu­ni­ties for girls. A sup­port­ive Con­sti­tu­tion and leg­isla­tive frame­work, in­creas­ing en­rol­ment of girls at all ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions as well as grow­ing vis­i­bil­ity of girls and young women in lead­er­ship po­si­tions were all en­cour­ag­ing de­vel­op­ments.

How­ever, as girls around the world were learn­ing sport had the power to tran­scend bound­aries of sex, race, re­li­gion and na­tion­al­ity. From gain­ing lead­er­ship skills and find­ing com­mon ground to tackle tough is­sues, sport em­pow­ers girls.

Women and girls in sport de­fied gen­der stereo­types, made in­spir­ing role mod­els and showed men and women as equals.

On the oc­ca­sion of the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl, the UN asked girls what sport meant to them and in SA, sport pro­vided a safe haven and op­por­tu­nity for learn­ing about HIV pre­ven­tion and gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

“Be­fore I was a mem­ber of Skillz Street I did not know where I was headed. But now I know where I’m from, where I’m headed and where I want to be in the fu­ture.

“It’s built so much con­fi­dence in me be­cause I know what’s ahead for me. I feel proud of my­self that I am part of the pos­i­tive side, the safe side,” Yamkela Nqweniso said.

Nqweniso, 16, was born and raised in Khayelit­sha, the largest in­for­mal town­ship in Cape Town, where there is a high preva­lence of HIV-Aids and lim­ited so­cial in­fra­struc­ture.

She was one of 100 ado­les­cent girls who were part of Grass­root Soc­cer pro­gramme, a civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tion em­pow­er­ing youths through sports.

Along with ath­letic train­ing, girls are men­tored by peer coaches on pre­vent­ing HIV and gen­der-based vi­o­lence through the in­no­va­tive Skillz Street pro­gramme.

Mean­while, girls aged be­tween 15 and 24 were cited as be­ing at an ex­tremely high risk of con­tract­ing HIV – al­most three times higher than young men of the same age be­cause of sex­ual abuse.

The Aids Health­care Foun­da­tion had been fo­cus­ing on ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges faced by girls and women in 2016 and had car­ried out com­pre­hen­sive sur­veys in SA, Uganda and Nige­ria to iden­tify how to make their ser­vices more girl-friendly.

Ed­u­ca­tion was the best key in get­ting the word out about the dan­gers of early sex­ual ac­tiv­ity and un­safe sex, which in­cluded HIV, STIs, preg­nancy and in­creased risk of cer­vi­cal cancer.

Klazinga said even though con­doms and other con­tra­cep­tives were read­ily avail­able at clin­ics, teenagers needed to have ac­cess to con­fi­den­tial con­tra­cep­tive ser­vices and sex­ual ed­u­ca­tion at schools.

Men also needed to be en­cour­aged to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and en­gage in safe sex­ual be­hav­iour by us­ing con­doms, re­main­ing faith­ful to one sex­ual part­ner and by fight­ing the abu­sive “blesser” cul­ture which en­cour­aged men to prey on girls and younger women.

Ac­cord­ing for the sta­tis­tics, nearly 2000 young women be­tween the ages of 15 and 24 were be­ing in­fected with HIV per week in SA.

Last year, in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the UN In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl Child, the Western Cape depart­ment of so­cial de­vel­op­ment (DSD) hosted 24 girls, aged be­tween 14 and 18, at the Grandwest Casino in Good­wood, Cape Town.

Sihle Ngob­ese, DSD spokesper­son, said the girls who joined a mo­ti­va­tional talk ses­sion and lunch were from dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties all over Cape Town.

Ngob­ese said the MEC for so­cial de­vel­op­ment, Al­bert Fritz, had placed great em­pha­sis on boost­ing ini­tia­tives and ser­vices to girls and women.

PICTURE: IS­TOCK

AD­VANC­ING RIGHTS: Ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion in low in­come coun­tries of sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa is one of the chal­lenges of the global com­mu­nity, as stated in the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.

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