Today is International Girl Child Day and to talk about the challenges and discrimination that girls go through daily in entire life span around the world – it will be tough one.
International day of the Girl Child acknowledges the importance, power, and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening up of more opportunities for them. At the same time, this day is designated to eliminate gender-based challenges that little girls face around the world, including child marriages, poor learning opportunities, violence, and discrimination.
There are privileged one’s where the girl survives and gets raised with love and affection. She gets education and still there will be something that she would not be able to do, or say because she is a girl. So we cannot say that girls are treated equally in a patriarchal society where boys have more right for everything.
I remember when the calling out for the rights of women and girls was first achieved by the Beijing Declaration in 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing – I was giving an interview in the Maharashtra Labor Welfare office in India. A question was asked to me – if I get married, will I change my last name to my husband’s last name or will I keep my last name that is given by my family. It was a tough one those days, because I was sitting in front of two men who were already talking about what’s happening in Beijing and were saying it’s crazy!
“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.” ~ Michelle Obama
I didn’t respond the way I wanted to then because I wanted to be selected for the Labor Welfare Officer’s position as I stood first in Maharashtra for my Masters and hence I said, it is individual’s choice. If I feel like adding my husband’s last name then I will add and if I don’t want then I will keep everything same because either way I will be a wife to the man I am married to.
Both men laughed and one guy who looked more senior in age, said she meant she will keep her husband’s last name and she is not getting carried away with this Beijing thing. I was shocked but I only smiled at this and further moved on with rest of the questions. I came out of that office and later got the letter about my selection. It’s a different thing that I migrated to Canada exploring that side of the adventure but wanted to share a glimpse of it here. Though the Beijing world conference on Women was the first- ever blueprint to have identified the need for addressing issues faced by adolescent girls all around the world.
“Achieving gender equality is about disrupting the status quo – not negotiating it.” ~ Phumzile Mlambo
I remember my parents telling me when my Mom was expecting me, she wanted a girl child and those days there were no gender identifying machines and hence she prayed to have a baby girl. She went to her Mom’s house for delivery as my grand father was not keeping well. And that time my Dad sent her a letter saying if you have a baby girl name her Dawn and if baby boy then you can decide what you want to name. This incident clearly reminds me how they were looking forward for me to come into their life. But in India and around the world, there are incidents where as soon they come to know it’s going to be a baby girl either they kill the baby in the womb or just after the birth of the baby.
“Girls and boys have similar brains with equal math ability”.
Now imagine, if that killing is unsuccessful what this girl who will be born will go through her entire life, until she becomes strong to say No, yet keep fighting for her basic survival. It’s a tough world and who makes it?
I was raised by my parents with equal rights but my Mom was always worried about my outspoken nature, because she knew how the world is and hence, I have often seen her giving justification for my nature to others – because she want her daughter to be accepted in this world. And I always listened to my Dad who tells me, do what you like as long as it’s not hurting others. Live your life as don’t listen to society because they never come for your help when you need one.
I wish to see this world as shown below: where a girl and boy are equal and counted as two people and not one girl and one boy. Equality matters to everyone, not just to boys!
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