Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

THE GIRL CHILD: “MY VOICE, OUR EQUAL FU­TURE”

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World­wide, gen­der equal­ity move­ments have made vast progress but still there is a gen­der gap or dis­crim­i­na­tion, of­ten in third world coun­tries. Though women have made much progress in their bat­tle for equal­ity and so­cial justice, the girl child’s plight is still a cause for con­cern in most coun­tries. Even at the time of birth we of­ten hear ex­cla­ma­tions of joy that it is a boy child and not so much hap­pi­ness when it is a girl child. In some coun­tries this at­ti­tude is widely seen be­cause when a girl child grows up, the par­ents are likely to have dowry prob­lems and re­lated is­sues. That is why one of In­dia’s great­est philoso­phers Rabindrana­th Tagore has lamented that in In­dia mar­riage is of­ten what he calls “glo­ri­fied pros­ti­tu­tion” be­cause in most cases the male part­ner or the par­ents seek some­thing like three mil­lion ru­pees for a doc­tor, two mil­lion or more for en­gi­neers, ac­coun­tants or lawyers and a lit­tle less for other pro­fes­sion­als. This hap­pens in Sri Lanka also though all our re­li­gions teach that in mar­riage, self­less, sac­ri­fi­cial and ever for­giv­ing love is price­less.

To­mor­row, Sri Lanka will co-op­er­ate with the United Na­tions in cel­e­brat­ing the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl Child. This year’s theme is, “My voice,our equal fu­ture”. In a state­ment the UN says progress for ado­les­cent girls has not kept pace with the re­al­i­ties they face to­day and COVID-19 has re­in­forced many of these gaps. The UN has called on all coun­tries to make use of this op­por­tu­nity to be in­spired by what ado­les­cent girls see as the change they want, the so­lu­tions they are de­mand­ing across the globe.

This year, we mark 25 years since the adop­tion of the Bei­jing dec­la­ra­tion and plat­form for ac­tion – the global agenda for ad­vanc­ing the rights and em­pow­er­ment of women and girls ev­ery­where. Gen­er­a­tion equal­ity was also launched in early this year, as a multi-part­ner cam­paign and move­ment for bold ac­tion on gen­der equal­ity. A clear nar­ra­tive and ac­tions re­lated to the needs and op­por­tu­ni­ties of ado­les­cent girls and their so­lu­tions is cen­tral to the gen­er­a­tion equal­ity mis­sion.

World­wide, as ado­les­cent girls as­sert their power as change-mak­ers, the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl Child 2020 will fo­cus on their de­mands to live free from gen­der-based vi­o­lence, harm­ful prac­tices, HIV and AIDS; learn new skills to­wards the fu­ture they choose and lead as a gen­er­a­tion of ac­tivists ac­cel­er­at­ing so­cial change.

The UN has out­lined ways to get in­volved in promoting the rights of the girl child. We could do this by shar­ing sto­ries of in­spir­ing ado­les­cent girls or girl-led or­gan­i­sa­tions which are de­vel­op­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions or lead­ing ef­forts to­wards pos­i­tive so­cial change, in­clud­ing gen­der equal­ity, in their com­mu­ni­ties and na­tions. This will am­plify their lead­er­ship ac­tions and in­spire oth­ers. We are also called upon to par­tic­i­pate in a youth-led dig­i­tal ac­ti­va­tion launch­ing on the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl Child. Across the world, young peo­ple are de­vel­op­ing a dig­i­tal ac­tivism cam­paign, aim­ing to raise the di­ver­sity of girls’ voices and their vi­sion for a re-imag­ined fu­ture.

The UN women’s move­ment iden­ti­fies how Covid-19 i mpacts women and girls. A pro­found shock to our so­ci­eties and economies, the COVID-19 pan­demic un­der­scores so­ci­ety’s re­liance on women both on the front line and at home while si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­pos­ing struc­tural in­equal­i­ties across ev­ery sphere, from health to the econ­omy, se­cu­rity to so­cial pro­tec­tion. In times of cri­sis, when re­sources are strained and in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity is lim­ited, women and girls face dis­pro­por­tion­ate im­pacts with far-reach­ing con­se­quences that are only fur­ther am­pli­fied in contexts of fragility, con­flict, and emer­gen­cies. Hard-fought gains for women’s rights are also un­der threat. Re­spond­ing to the pan­demic is not just about rec­ti­fy­ing long-stand­ing in­equal­i­ties, but also about build­ing a re­silient world in the in­ter­est of ev­ery­one with women at the cen­tre of re­cov­ery.

What­ever t he neg­a­tive as­pects, the girl child even­tu­ally be­comes the mother in a fam­ily and we know what an im­por­tant role the mother plays in mould­ing lov­ing, car­ing and obe­di­ent chil­dren who could play a vi­tal role in the com­mu­nity, so­ci­ety and coun­try.

 ??  ?? my voice our equal fu­ture
my voice our equal fu­ture

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