By Amarachukwu Okpunobi
To gain yourself access to reading this piece, take few seconds and wish any girl child around you a happy girls child’s day. After you’ve done that, then you can read on.
Every year the girl child is being celebrated globally. This was instituted since 1995, at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, where the need for an event focused on young and vulnerable girls was identified. The initiative began as a non-governmental international plan of action to address the challenge faced by young women.
A resolution to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girls Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011. Each year, a theme is adopted.
The theme of this year’s annual International Day of the Girl Child, on October 11, “Digital generation. Our generation.”, recognizes the digital transformation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the pandemic accelerated the transition to online learning, working and networking, it also accelerated women and girl’s risk of being left behind.
In records, 2020, more than 60 million women in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) had no access to the mobile internet and so, were more likely than men to miss out on learning and working opportunities.
Access, ownership and use of digital tools are not gender-neutral: For instance, parents may be stricter with girls than boys in the use of mobile phones and activities that require the use of the internet, while households with limited computing resources might redirect these to boys and men over girls and women, often tasked with domestic chores and unpaid work. Factors such as affordability and cost also affect women and girls disproportionally.
Moreover, social norms, gender bias and a lack of support from the family and teachers often dissuade girls and women from choosing education programmes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and from pursuing careers in these fields.
How to get our girls involved in this digital generation:
Not limited to the points below are things that we all can do to get our girls involved in this digital generation. If it is well for them, it is well for us too.
Allow them to be creative :
You see those little girls that fold papers, spoil and repair their toys and school materials, take a special interest in them. As much as you try to reprimand them for spoiling things owing to the economic melt down of the country, still look at what they can do with just those seemingly little things.
These will not just be for girls but even for boys. Let’s allow them our explore their creative minds. Creativity begets innovation. Innovation begets development. That’s how we incorporate them into national and international development. This is how we grow too. They can be creative just the way they are, let’s give them the chance.
Give them access to technological devices:
As much as we try to keep them safe from falsehood and social vices, we still have to expose them to knowing the truth. As much as we also argue that technology has done more harm than good to our society, we should not also forget the impact.
Big thanks to youtube teens where they can view what is within their age bracket. Phones are not totally bad if given to them. Many have lost their lives because they lacked the device to communicate. The world is going digital, these girls should not also be left out. If you must let the boys access phones, also allow the girls. It is already bad that some of our girls are timid, we should not add to it.
Give them a voice through the media:
The girl child should be given an opportunity to air their view about certain things which could go a long way to help in the progress of the society at large. Some individuals are naturally endowed with knowledge, wisdom, problem solving skill and deep understanding about a problem and do critical thinking on ways that will help out or give solutions to certain issues of life which should not be deprived from.
Give them their voice through some platforms in the media. Good a thing, so many television stations have teens TV where they can watch their contemporaries and get themselves improved in their own skills.
Don’t get them stucked in a place :
I remember my days in secondary school when we were not allowed to participate in any science competition outside the school. Once I asked my science teacher, he said he doesn’t trust us to win in any of the competitions. I was so annoyed that I started asking my contemporaries in other schools about invitations for competitions. I remembered how I arranged for one of the competitions where I and my classmates participated and came back 2nd runner up.
We weren’t the winner after all but it really exposed us so much that afterwards we were allowed to participate in science competitions. Many of our girls are caged up in their small world that they don’t trust themselves with their abilities and knowledge. To make a living, one must be courageous. It only starts now to build that courage in them and let them exercise it.
Teach them digital skills:
To survive in this part of the world is to have skills that can be utilised to produce or create something. They are so many skills that can be learnt digitally. Don’t deprive our girls of that. These skills are not meant for any particar gender. If others can do it, try the girls too. They can build softwares, interpret binary results and operate completer efficiently. Let them understand that theae skills are for them too.
Above all these things, share love with them. Both on digital and non-digital platforms. Let the girls know that they are loved genuinely just the way they are. Not for their physique, beauty or their vulnerability. Let them know that they can always be at their best regardless of where they are or what circumstances they find themselves. Let’s digitalize our love for our girls.