Imagine a community wherein girls are plagued with lots of challenges. As if that's not enough same community is hit by a sociopolitical crisis. It is more than we think. Girls in my community are made vulnerable by virtue of both their sex and poverty, and are in danger of being denied their human rights to health care and basic education. They are vulnerable to sexual, emotional and physical abuse as well as cultural practices such as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). Boys of course suffer too and they are subjected to child labor and sexual exploitation; but poverty, violence, unequal access to education and other basic rights have a greater effect on girls and demand particular attention. Being born female brings about discrimination and demeaning; poverty; unequal access to various rights and services such as health, education, paid work and food; violence - GBV ( gender based violence) in the home, society in general and in situations of war just as my Region's current situation. This is a reality of son preference: the preference of people to have sons rather than daughters. I think that son preference is the basic expression of the problem of being born female.
With no schools for almost 3 years in my community both boys and girls have not been attending regular school, if they do its in fear and they are filled with fear of the unknown. Girls quest for getting rid of poverty has led them into sex work and some have been lured across bothers or away from their homes into jobs that pay low and/or dangerous. This desperate need to have income has resulted in girls becoming drawn into sex trafficking and forced prostitution. The mere fact of being a girl makes one vulnerable especially when equipped with education. The ongoing sociopolitical crisis has aggravated the situation especially as early or teenage pregnancy has contributed to a cycle that keeps girls in poverty, illiteracy rates increase and there is a high incidence of domestic violence. Victims (girls) are isolated and regarded with low esteem and are less likely to have access to appropriate health care information and secondary schooling. Girls are regarded as economic burdens and as such some are married off leading of education or further education and thus limited job opportunities. Trafficking in girls is just one of the brutal problems that arise when there is poverty, unequal access to education and health care, violence and growing up as a girl.
When we think about empowering girls or improving their health, we often ask what the "one intervention" is that will work to fix the major problems that we face, as we try to improve the world. I believe passionately in the importance of education to train a generation of girl leaders. I think education is critical. You are not doing girls a favour when you advocate for girls' education. The foremost reason to educate girls is because it is a basic human right. It is a fair and just thing to do to bring about equality and access.
The cheapest way to make changes or make girls be celebrated is to invest in girls. Investing in girls education is worth it because we will achieve the following magical results:
1) Thousands and why not millions of girls will be opened to lots of opportunities.
2) Increase income or economic status of girls who are our feature women.
3) Increases life expectancy and prevent child deaths a child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of 5.
4) It will boost agricultural output in communities. Economies will prosper thus a raise in the nation's per capita economic growth.
5) Reduces child mortality as teenage pregnancy are prevented.
6) Increases their willingness to seek medical care and improves sanitation practices.
7) Educating girls reduces reduces fertility - an educated girl delays fertility and will want to have fewer children and are better able to attain their desired level of fertility.
8) Educating girls reduces maternal mortality as one can calculate that an additional year in school or education will prevent maternal deaths.
9) Educating girls helps prevent the spread of HIV and other STIs as educated girls are more likely to look out for their reproductive health, and much less likely to become sex workers.
10) Last but not the least, educating girls will improve environmental benefits as they have the ability to manage natural resources efficiently.
I was a once a girl and had my fair share of challenges. Social constructs are still attributed to being female. With education I braved my way through. Education is my tool to help other girls find their purpose and become unscripted and unstoppable. So far, the "GirlForce" is so strong as they are filled with lots of potentials.