I have never understood why girls are called “weak” or “crybabies”. Yes, when I was a girl (and I still think I am a girl, lol!) my friends and I didn’t like rough and tumble play – running at neck-braking speed, jumping on top of each other, ramming into each other- it just wasn’t our kind of play. We preferred to play games like ampe, circle-time, hide-and-seek, dancing contests…you get it.
And yes, we would cry when we got hurt or someone did or said something hurtful to us; but how do such preferences earn us uncomplimentary names. I know of some boys who also do not like rough and tumble play, who would rather engage in mental sports (quizzes, competitions, etc.) and get told to “stop being a girl”, another uncomplimentary remark to both the boy, and girls in general.
Girls the world over suffer from a lot of discrimination simply because they are…girls. This kind of discrimination, even though targeted at just the girls, affects boys, men and the world at large. Females (girls and women) make-up about half the size of the world’s population (an estimated 7.8 billion) so if we are always being discriminated against, how can the world ever be complete with only one half of it feeling confident?
This concern led some 30,000 women and men from 200 countries gathering in Beijing, China some 25 years ago to formulate the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Policy– the sole aim of that meeting was to get the world to recognize women’s rights as human rights.
Generally, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1999) states that all children shall be treated equally and not discriminated against based on their gender amongst others. Yet, in several countries, girls are discriminated against right from birth into adulthood. Very, very sad, isn’t it?
How are females discriminated against, you may be wondering? It is understandable that you question this assertion; it would mean you haven’t experienced it or are not aware of what discrimination against females is. In either case, you (boys and girls alike) must understand what discrimination against females is and why we cannot be a part of it; we should speak up for females because without them, the world will cannot go round.
Denial of access to education
In some rural parts of Ghana for instance, outmoded cultural beliefs have been used to stop girls from attending school to receive an education. On of such outmoded belief holds that a girl doesn’t need to go to school because she will end up getting married and ‘staying in the kitchen and at home’.
This erroneous and highly uneducated belief that a female’s role in the family is only to cook and clean the home is rather unfortunate. You and I know that that assertion is so divorced from the truth, it beggars belief that anyone will still think that in this century. The African continent alone has fielded nine female presidents, with Ethopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde being the current female president.
Females are typically nurturers, and would either be the ones to take care of children at home or be a mentor to other women; if girls cannot go to school, how can they become educated women in the future who can read an expired food can from a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign? The biggest interruption to a girl’s life is to be denied access to education
Lack of water/sanitary conditions
Would you believe that even in some parts of our major cities, there are schools that do not have either washrooms or running water to use in the washrooms? Incroyable! (French for ‘incredible’). So girls in such schools will skip classes during their menstrual period to avoid embarrassing and or insanitary situations.
According to WHO*, 1 out of every 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence in their life. This violence could be in the form of rape, sexual harassment, domestic abuse, etc. Any form of gender-based violence takes away from too many women the right to a healthy and safe life in any environment. We must all want our girls and women to be protected from all these threats to their very existence.
The UN Day of The Girl (October 11 every year) is marked with deliberations on how to protect girls; what can you and your family do to ensure that that a girl’s life is uninterrupted?
*World Health Organisation
>>>The writer is a passionate educator who makes learning fun for children under 18 through co-curricular programmes. Through her charity organisation, Young Educators Foundation (YEF) in Ghana, the programmes portfolios have expanded to include literacy programmes in local languages as well as public speaking programmes for the youth.
Based on her work in education and with children, Eugenia is the recipient of many nomination and awards such as a presidential award for the contribution to education over the past decade in 2018. In 2019, she was named as one of the 74 individuals in Those who Inspire Ghana, a global programme that identifies nationals whose experiences are worth sharing.
Eugenia believes that children are not the ‘future’, but rather the ‘present’ and so the need to invest in their total development. She is a regular contributor on radio and television shows as well as various public fora on this and related topics.