The voyage of advancing human rights across the globe can be traced back to the 1940’s.  It all began after the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR in 1948; that was when our struggle began.

 

However, the journey towards a world in which the rights and dignity of every human is prolonged, day after day, by social issues that impede the advancement of individual human rights; especially the rights of women and girls.

One of the greatest and most discussed topics of the present day is that of empowering the girl child through education.  This struggle has been close to the heart of many human rights advocates who work tirelessly to advance the rights of many young girls’ access to education.  As an aspiring human rights activist, passionate about advancing the rights of women and girls, I believe that all do this because we have the same belief: that educating a girl child paves the way for sustainable development and inclusive growth. Sustainable development and inclusive growth can only be possible when we attain the notion of inclusiveness, (leaving no one behind). A country can flourish when it does not stifle the contributions of women and avails opportunities for both women and young girls to contribute towards the both global economy and personal economy hence paving a way for sustainable development and also working towards achieving the international common goals stipulated in both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the Agenda 2063.

Girls carry a heavy, yet invisible, burden on their shoulders as they navigate the complexities of a world that keeps them from classrooms.  They are targets of exclusion and marginalization which have been developed through personal perceptions of what a girl child should be;(these are certain thoughts and ideologies of how a girl child should behave) leaving our girls disempowered and disenfranchised.  This has given men, and the societies that raise them above women, eminent power to dictate how a girl child should live, what she should and should not do, whether or not she belongs in school – in essence, it gives them the right to determine the young girl’s future.  And this may explain why the journey to educate the girl child seems futile.

Apart from exclusion, girls are also exposed to violence, child or forced marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and many more other attributes of violence that stand against the dreams of young girls and the vision of being partakers of determining their own future and of becoming change leaders.

Countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria demonstrate frequent and disturbing examples of how women and girls embody the very face of abuse.  About 3.7 million young girls in Afghanistan are out of school today according to the research conducted by UNESCO, and the story of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for going to school, and survived to become a global activist for female education, is testament to the continuing struggle.

In Nigeria, the entire world rose in uproar after the horrific incident recorded in which almost 300 young girls were abducted from their school in Chibok.  The girls were abused, married off to violent extremists, tortured, and sold into slavery.  This is a story we will never cease to tell, yet to this day, we do not know the fate of the majority of the Chibok girls.  This is the hurdle we must overcome, but it will not happen without considerable effort.

According to research conducted by the Global Partnership team, globally there are about 131 million girls who are not in school, and this is rather shocking given the great progress that has been made towards educating girls over the last three decades.  The vision must not – cannot – be permitted to become stagnant.  If more efforts are not put in place, girls will contribute to a growth beyond the present two-thirds of women across the globe that are illiterate.  Today, it is estimated that there are around 57.7 million illiterate women, in the world as compared to men.

It is common knowledge that the Sub-Saharan region is the highest region in Africa with young girls that are not in school or will never set foot in a classroom.  Reasons for this may include the region’s continuous civil wars, high poverty rates, patriarchal disregard for girls, and poor school conditions, which act as a stumbling block for young girls to get proper education in a clean and safe environment.

 

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