Gender Gender

Girls cry for protection

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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
TOMORROW, October 11, the world commemorates the International Day of the Girl Child; a day first declared by the United Nations in 2012. It is also known as the Day of the Girl. The local theme in Zambia is ‘Empower girls to contribute to ending violence.’
Sadly, a dark cloud hangs over Zambia as the country and young people in particular mourn the death of 22-year-old Vespers Shimuzhila.
Vespers, a fourth year student at the University of Zambia died in the early hours of Friday from suffocation in her room following protests at the Great East Road campus over allowances. Ironically, Vespers, a self-sponsored student was due to graduate in three month’s time. She was buried in Namwala yesterday after a touching church service in Lusaka on Monday.
The International Day of the Girl Child encourages initiatives aimed at supporting more opportunities for girls and increasing awareness of gender inequality faced by girls the world over.
The over 1.1 billion girls in the world all deserve equal opportunities for a better future. However, they are most vulnerable due to numerous factors.
Girls have the ability to change and help build a better and prosperous future for themselves, families, communities and nations because they possess that positive multiplier effect.
Most of them are still disadvantaged and discriminated on a daily basis with those living through crises even worse off than their peers.
According to UN Women, every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies due to some form of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases subjecting victims to sexual and physical violence, child and forced marriages, exploitation and trafficking. It is a fact that all girls are vulnerable in most communities, however, those in conflict areas are 90 percent more likely to drop out of school when compared to girls in safer environments.
Lack of education compromises girls’ future prospects for work and financial independence as they enter adulthood, that is how many of them end up in relationships or marriages where they are treated as second-class and not equal partners because they do not have the ability to make any decisions pertaining to their lives. They are always at the mercy of the men folk in their lives.
It is hoped that the commemoration of this important day, girls regardless of their background will be empowered to raise their voices to fight for their rights and protection in all contexts. It is only through such initiatives that girls will be able to contribute to building a peaceful and cohesive society for the benefit of all.
Lastly, I end by offering my deepest condolences to Vespers’ family and friends and a quick and complete recovery to those who were injured.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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