Annually, on the #InternationalDayOfTheGirl, there are a plethora of stats that are highlighted and shared by many from developmental agencies to passionate individuals bringing awareness to the atrocities that girls face all over the world. They range from there being approx. 130 million girls out of school to every 10 minutes a girl dies as a result of violence.
I’ve been trying to grapple with this buzzword “empowerment” for a while because for women the solution is said to be economic freedom, and for girls it’s usually education right? And I agree with it to some extent…However how do we get there? It’s not some sort of magic project that NGOs can set up and “alas! we are saved”. If this is truly the #DayOfTheGirl, a day to advocate for their freedom and rights then we also have to acknowledge that their lack of empowerment stems from patriarchy.
There will be no empowerment without staring down deep rooted beliefs and age-old cultures. This isn’t a war that women alone can win, this is all hands on deck and all heads together. This isn’t only an issue in war-torn countries but everywhere in the world, young girls are hurting. And shame on the men who perpetrate these horrors and shame on the ones that sit by and watch.
#FreedomForGirls isn’t about giving them permission to do anything, it’s about making sure that the environment they are in is safe for them to do whatever they want to, that their lives are theirs. We get there by breaking down the oppressive structures, we get there through government. We need to clean up our societies, our households, our minds. We owe it to our mothers, our daughters, sisters… Teach your boys and call out your men and hold them accountable!