Social Transformation needed in Support of Girls’ Rights-Bishop Okoye

By Chioma Ndife

As the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, His Lordship, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, has said that social transformation is greatly needed in the world in support of girls’ rights.

Bishop Okoye made the statement while speaking on ”Digital Generation, Our Generation”, the theme of the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child. He said that collective effort was needed to end gender and age discrimination which are at the heart of the violation of girls’ rights.

‘Today, October 11, I join the United Nations and their sister agencies, civil societies and girls around the world, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child under the theme, ”Digital generation, Our generation”. There is need for equal access to the internet and digital devices for girls. Girls, especially in Nigeria, are victims of various social vices,’ he stated.

The Bishop said the annual internationally recognized day helped to empower girls and amplified their voices just like its adult version, International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8. He said the day’s celebration acknowledged the importance, power and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening of up of more opportunities for them.

He explained that for girls in developing countries to attain their full potentials, they must be allowed to reap the benefits of technological revolution that had reshaped the life of every human being.

He recalled that the COVID-19 necessitated unprecedented public health measures, such as frequent lockdowns and closure of schools and businesses, noting that societies with advanced digital technology were able to ensure the continuity of learning and economic productivity.

He maintained that the government of developing countries and other public spirited individuals must ensure that girls were given the opportunity to be part of the digital transformation, noting that if such was not done, they would continue to be left behind as a result of the digital rift.

He regretted that in Nigeria, millions of illiterate girls who were never enrolled in school or dropped out of school due to poverty, early marriage and pregnancy, had relatively no hope of being part of the digital generation. He stressed that joint efforts were required for every girl to be educated and protected from the evils of teenage pregnancy and early marriage.

He described girls as leaders and change-makers, noting that they had the capacity of driving good and positive growth around the world. He said that girls were fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality and elimination of gender based-violence, saying that technology was an essential instrument to support their work, activism and leadership.

He recollected that earlier in the year, the Generation Equality Forum set technology and innovation as a priority in global conversation on gender equality. He beckoned on leaders of civil societies, governments, private sectors and youth movements to make more commitments in order to build more inclusive digital societies through providing equitable opportunities to girls and putting girls and young women at the center of designing and learning solutions for the digital world.