‘On December 19,
2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted
Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of
the Girl Child
, to recognize girls’ rights and the
unique challenges girls face around the world.’
October11,2012 marks the first
month that the world celebrates this unique day. So much has been written and
said about empowering girls to the point that it is almost ‘cluttering’ people’s
minds. Critics say that ‘the whole girl empowerment thing is a little over the
top.’ Some ask about the boy child, and say that empowering the girls has been
pushed too far at the expense of the boy child. Such critics only highlight just
how we have a long way to go in ensuring gender mainstreaming. So much has been
achieved yes, but still much more needs to be done. Society has a long way to
go in accepting that there is need to empower women and ensure that they are at
the same level of contribution/participation as their male counterparts.
theme of this years’ Day of the Girl is Child marriage. A recent report on the
Daily Nation newspaper stated that ‘Kenya ranked high on Teenage mothers list,
out of wedlock, into school: combating child marriage through education, nearly
3 in every 10 girls are bearing a child, heavily disorganizing their school
Issues such
as the preference for education of boys over girls, and forced early
pregnancies for girls (as per the study), or the disregard of the utility of
the added resource provided by women, continue to thrive as barriers to
development. There is a cycle of undermining and marginalizing of girls, which
reinforces systems in which girls (and later women) are undervalued at all
levels of engagement, from community to state levels. This poses serious
challenges, not least, stagnation around the quality of progress achieved for
development. The potential is far from maximized for whole societies. We have
seen the manifestation of this problem in the perennial gaps in women’s
representation at the most senior levels and this remains a major stumbling
a result of these challenges which are inherent in our society, it becomes
urgent to ‘catch girls young’ (early intervention), and support them in
achieving some degree of personal empowerment, which will form the basis for
their personal values with their families, at school, university, and work –
places that they constantly face exploitation, harassment and discrimination of
some kind.
as the world celebrates the Day for the Girls, the Resource Centre Women and
Girls(RCWG) family will celebrate its Sheroes whose courage continues to inspire us even long after some are gone; Leaders who have dared bring the women agenda on the table for
discussion in an effort to give us a voice; Mentors who have worked tirelessly
to bring out the great potential within us;  Feminist and Women Rights activists who have
challenged negative society norms that oppress girls; Institutions and
Organizations that have thought it important to bring the girl child on the
spotlight in their activities; parents, guardians, brothers, sisters and
friends who have stood by their daughters, siblings or friends and supported
them at times when they needed that support; Young girls who ‘get it’ and
inspire their peers at that very low level.
is such people whose tireless work, passion, solidarity, courage, wisdom and
understanding that has brought Girls this far and will bring the change that is
needed. It is them that will bring the girls on an equal level to exercise their
full potential.

by Rachel Sittoni

Rachel is a graduate from the
RCWG camp.
The views expressed in
this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the RCWG opinion.