Today is October 11 and it is International Day of Girl child. A day set aside to raise discussion about girl child around the world. To mark the day, there is going to be talks delivered, ceremonies, funfare in the world over The essence is to raise more support for girls and to increase awareness about gender equality faced by girls in our world.
Some of these issues of equality are harsh, dehumanising and cause lots of damage to girls’ potentials. The issues are centred around human rights and dignity which include right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and early and forced marriages.
In the recent Sustainable Development Goals, gender equality is also prioritised. The world cannot overlook such a big concern to our world.
This 2016 celebration has the theme ‘Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls’. Parts of the lofty aims of what should count are that girls progress is family, national and societies’ progres. So as the celebration goes on everywhere around the world at governmental and non governmental levels we have been asked by United Nations to give priority to how data on girls and women is very vital. Without essential data the world will significantly limit its ability to monitor and communicate the wellbeing and progress of half of humanity. This is also according to United Nations which we all must agree with.
But as we mark this day. A thought had been flying on my mind and I felt today may be a great opportunity to step up this conversation for everyone: within the United Nations system, Government of Nations, Civil society organizations and Non government organizations who are involved in this work.
Our narrative till date had focused on comparison of boys to girls or what the world feel boys are enjoying over girls which also had been supported by society, myths, culture and religion. This perspective is very great and has its own values. But today I will like to proffer another perspective which is important and worth a little consideration if we must win the war and make significant progress. I draw my inspiration from the normal everyday talk which states ‘ if a person needs to constantly be involved in comparism war, such a person may not fulfil or maximixe their potentials’.
In the light of this, is it not better to consider changing girls’ development narrative from now on. Because one thinks the present narrative can be better enhanced if we emphasis girls full potential pursuit or achievement instead of relating their potentials to boys.
We achieve more if we promote a notion of every human is unique and we promote the issue of value as against always drawing comparison between boys’ privilege over girls. We do know this position is embedded in the present narrative but the signal/emphasis is more on the comparison. Continuing in this narrative can be an insult and abuse on the parts of girls’ pyshe. Me think it is good enough message if we say a girl has a right to be who she is created to be and has the full potentials to be without any impediments.
While I have no serious issues with the word ‘ gender equality’ I will always prefer the use of gender equity. Though closely related but there is huge difference in meaning. One may be positive while the other is negative. Equality focuses on right and status, which is not bad while equity focuses on value. Equity may enjoy wider acceptance and achieve faster in our world than equality. Equity may stress fairness and justice better in this present narrative we are using than any other.
What we need to acknowledge though is that both equity (value in this instance) and equality (status and rights) do have limits but it is clear one is more elastic than other. If we keep comparing boys and girls in our girls’ development narrative, it is like telling the girls ‘ the sky is the limit’ but why do we not tell them ‘there is no limit’ which is more empowering which is the major goal the world seeks to achieve through International Day of Girl child.