International day of the girl child is a day celebrated to support more opportunities for girls and to create awareness of gender inequality, in a male dominated world.


It has been reported that more than 62 million girls worldwide have no access to education, but instead are groomed from an early age that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and besides her husband.


Various women who are in leadership positions face various challenges because of their gender, and although women occupy the same positions as men, it has been an open secret that men earn more than women for the same work.


Institutional Research and planning acting director, Tabile Loqo said she believes that the power of access to information is an important strategy that can be used to empower young girls.


“Often, girls are classified into construct roles which are determined for them by society, culture, family and religion. International day of the girl child is an important and very much needed initiative as it is trying to raise awareness globally to the challenges faced by the girl child in all corners of the world. It is only through such awareness that we can rally together as communities and help to address the challenges faced by our girls which are a result of varying and inherent gender inequality practices,” said Loqo.


Social Sciences Head of Department, senate and council member, Dr Nelly Sharpley said some of the strategies that could be used to empower young girls is to change the mind-set that females are inferior to males.


“Globally the challenges of women seem to be the same, discrimination by virtue of gender and being assumed to be a vulnerable gender. These social problems violate the girl child in all countries; rape, force marriages, subservient role, lesser educational opportunities, occupations and income, most affected by HIV in Africa, and now reduced to dependence on social grants in SA,” said Dr Sharpley.


Faculty of Education dean, Nolutho Diko said that although the campaign helps raise awareness about the daily challenges faced by girls, more needs to be done.


“There are various challenges faced by young girls, such as the environment in which they grow up in, poverty and lack of resources to help them go to school. My advice to young girls is to forge ahead, do not allow circumstances to discourage you and identify a role model and emulate him or her,” said Diko.


International day of the girl child is celebrated every year, October 18.


By Vuyolwethu Nzolongwane


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