The International Day of the Girl Child is commemorated on the 11th of October annually. The 2021 day will not be an exception but it comes with the new realities of the new normal foisted by the global pandemic COVID 19 and its various variants.
The theme for this year is Digital generation. Our generation, taking cognisance of the impact of the pandemic on the status of the girl child around the world. The new realities make it imperative that the girl child is not left behind in development, access to education, health care and family life.
It is good and appropriate to educate the girl child, this puts her on the right path. With education, the girl child can have a foundation to build upon. The right education makes it possible for her to be part of the digital world and future. The digital generation must have access to the right knowledge going forward. The age of analogue is over. Exposure to knowledge, information, science and technology is imperative for the future of the girl child. For the 21st century and beyond requires that no one is left behind, especially the girl child. The digital age emphasises the use of screens, speed and information. The world is connected digitally through smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions. The result of this hyper-connectivity is that they have different learning experiences, they thrive on creativity, engaging activities and an energetic environment.
It is important that the girl child is protected, her health, education and opportunities to fulfil her potential is guaranteed.
She must be encouraged to make the right choices in life. Child marriage must be legislated against. Free education will go a long way in making the girl child remain in school. This will also help to reduce the number of out of school children. The provision of learning materials, social amenities will make it easier for the girl child to concentrate on her studies. Like the provision of potable water, electricity, good roads and health care centres will make school and education more attractive.
Children in armed conflict areas, displaced are prone to drop out of school. There is the need to provide adequate security in schools so that the girl child is not prevented from accessing school out of fear of kidnapping, banditry and hoodlums in unsecured communities. Children with special needs and living with disabilities must also be integrated in the community and schools. Adequate provision must be made for the girl child living with disabilities so that she is not excluded in the digital world. Tools appropriate for her development must be provided. Covid-19 has had a great impact on education with the lockdowns but it has also opened new frontiers of learning and education which were unexplored. It now makes it imperative to improve on access to the digital world by the girl child. The gender gap for global internet users grew to 17% in 2019 and it hovers around 44% in the least developed countries. UNICEF
By Nihinlolawa Aluko-Olokun, Esq.
Private Legal Practitioner