The United Nations declared 11th October as the international day of the girl child to promote the rights of young girls and to address the inequalities faced by the girls because of their gender. In this year’s event, SWDC organized gathering in one of the biggest IDP camps in Somalia.
What does this day means to Somali girls?
Somali girls unlike other girls in the world have been facing difficulties during early stages of their childhood. More than two decades of chaos and instability have made their life more difficult. Sexual violence and other harmful traditional practices have made their situation more miserable. However, with all these challenges, Somali girls play an active role in their communities in general and in particular in their families, they take of their younger brothers and sisters, they help their parents with the housework and more importantly they are sometimes breadwinners for their families.
Because she is a girl
Despite these successes, Somali girls are always face discrimination within their communities simply because they are girls. Number of girls who attend schools in Somalia is very limited compared to boys. In addition to that, girls face harmful traditional practice such as FGM which leave painful experience in their life time. Force/early marriage is also one of the main unbreakable barrier which force girls to drop out of school if she had the opportunity to go to school. Zahra told her story to our team.
“Zahra is 15 years old married to 350 years old man, her parents forced her to marry a man for financial purposes but as Zahra says, her life is way difficult than before she is got married., Zahra who did not allowed to take photo said she will be having her first baby in the next 3 months and never had the opportunity to attend school. “He told my parent that he will give me everything I needed but It has always been promises that has never get fulfilled”.
Traditional practices like force young girls in Somalia to face the harsh and hopeless life
SWDC in the field
SWDC shared the moment with IDP girls whom their voice is unheard because they are girls and they are from the most vulnerable groups of the community. SWDC team visited Al-cadala IDP camp located outskirts where the largest number of IDP reside. More than 100 girls from local area came together and expressed their voice and their rights to the world. Poverty and insecurity have forced these girls to flee from their original home town.
When asked if they had the opportunity to attend school, their answer was “we never had the opportunity to sit in a class”. Only very few of them were luck to go Quranic School (Madrasah).
One of the SWDC staff explained the significance of the day to the attendants and encouraged them to stand and speak out for their rights. Among the attendants were parents of these girls whom were also sensitized to stop inequalities between their children.
My voice, my right, my life
SWDC also printed strong message in a papers and distributed to the girls in order to enable for them to tell the world what they needed, their concerns as well as their rights. Dance and songs were performed by some of the girls, sweets were distributed and glimmer of hope could be seen from their faces. Moreover, the young girls showed their solidarity with their other sisters kidnapped in Nigeria by showing the hashtag sign #BringBackOurGirls.
Celebrate the power and potential of girls!
Celebrate the power and potential of girls!
The International Day of the Girl gives local civil society organizations like SWDC a powerful way to highlight the needs and rights of girls and to advocate for greater action and investment to enable girls to reach their full potential. Educating girls is like educating a whole nation, when girls are educated, healthy and informed; they lift themselves, their children and their entire communities out of poverty.
Why do we need a Day of the Girl?
Girls face double discrimination because of their age and gender. In many parts of the world including our country they face unique challenges, like:
- Barriers to education and opportunities to make a living
- Early and forced marriage
- Sexual gender based violence
These challenges require specific and urgent attention. By making progress in these areas, girls will have the tools to create a better life for themselves and lift entire nations out of poverty.
Can single day make a difference?
Commemorative days provide an important opportunity to address specific issues, and have communities join together for tangible action. They are also a good time to ask governments, international communities and other concerned agencies to make changes that will improve people’s lives.
The Day of the Girl will do all of those things. It gives us a powerful way to highlight the particular needs and rights of girls, and to advocate for greater action and investment to enable girls to reach their full potential.
Having a Day of the Girl gives us a real opportunity to get international attention and action on issues that affect girls.
One real way to make a difference for girls is to ensure their rights and dignity is protected. For that reason, SWDC plan to continue its commitment to provide preventive and response measures to these girls who face sexual gender based violence. This will include access to justice, psychosocial support as well as relocation assistance. SWDC will collaborate with local authorities and all other concerned parties of the federal government including law enforcement, justice institutions to minimize the number of girls who are subjected to violence. SWDC’s vision is to create an environment where Somali girls are free from all forms of violence.