Let’s ensure girls go back to class when schools reopen

Since friday, the world has been reminded of its responsibility towards the girl-child, including the need to prioritise her education and protect her from gender-based violence.

The series of reminders have come from various speeches and statements to mark the “International Day of the Girl Child”, which day is set aside to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 on December 19, 2011, to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

“My Voice, Our Equal Future” was the theme for this year’s commemoration.

The Ghanaian Times is revisiting the celebration because the conversation about the girl-child should never be lost on us or only revived when the woes of a girl are in the news or when the next commemoration comes.

The advocacy for girl empowerment must be sustained, especially at this point in time when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has worsened the plight of girls, especially access to education.

It is the fear of some stakeholders in education, including the Girls Education Network (GEN) and Africa Education Watch that some adolescent girls may not return to school when school re-opens in Ghana, next year.

This is because some may have become pregnant or their parents and guardians may have engaged them in other activities, including trading, to help save a family business or that of relatives from the impact of COVID-19.

This must not be the end of education for children, especially girls, because already there are not enough of them in school while the few drop out along the line due to various factors.

The Ghanaian Times, therefore, joins calls on the government to put in place measures to ensure that girls go back to the classrooms when school reopens so they do not miss out on their future prospects.

Gone are the days when the place of the girl was said to be in the domestic setting. It is now primitive to put barriers in the path of girls and deny them access to education.

There are countless examples of how girls are breaking boundaries posed by stereotypes and exclusion, with some making history as female speakers of parliament, Chief Justices and even presidential candidates.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015 bestows on all of us a duty not to leave anyone behind.

According to the UN, it is only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals would the world get to justice and inclusion, have economies that work for all, and sustain our shared environment now and for future generations.

 When schools re-open next year, we should see more girls returning to the classroom. We have to ensure that they are given the chance to live their aspirations and help support the socio-economic development of the country.

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