In many African societies, the girl child is seen as an object for sexual gratification. They are born, raised to be wives and given to men as old as their fathers because it is believed the girl child came to this world to procreate.
The girl child faces many challenges in Africa. From families who see them as liabilities instead of assets, societies who don’t appreciate their talents and abilities because of their gender to employment opportunities.
Here are 10 Issues The Girl Child Faces In Africa Today
1. Access to Education
A report by UNESCO found that 31 million girls of primary school age were not in school, and about one out of every four young women in developing countries had never completed their primary school education. in addition, women encompass two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world.
The number above represents a huge pool of untapped girl power: that same report suggests that educated women are more likely to get married later, survive childbirth, raise healthy kids, find work, and earn more money, among other positives.
2. Employment Opportunities
It is still very much a man’s world. In many places across the globe, women are not paid as much or promoted as often as men but in Africa, the case is worst.
In Africa, the twist is that the women are more likely to be engaged in the informal economy. In sub-Saharan Africa, 74% of women in contrast to 61% of men are more likely to be employed in lower-paying, informal jobs, according to the International Labor Organization. This leaves women prone to exploitation, low job security, intensive poverty and largely excluded from policy support programs.
Empowering women to earn their fair share could benefit their entire communities in a big way: women are likely to invest more of their money back into their families and communities than men typically do.
3. Reproductive Health & Rights
225 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for family planning, contributing to 74 million unplanned pregnancies and 36 million abortions every year, according to figures cited by Women Deliver, a women’s advocacy group. Helping women take charge of their baby-making reduces unsafe abortions and maternal deaths by over 70% each, and conserves precious resources that would otherwise have gone toward pregnancy-related costs.
4. Maternal Health
The World Health Organization estimates that 800 women die every day from preventable, pregnancy-related causes. That’s nearly 300,000 lives per year needlessly lost during what is fundamentally a life-creating event.
5. Gender-based Violence
1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, according to WHO. Whether it’s domestic abuse, rape, or sexual trafficking, gender-based violence denies far too many women the opportunity to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
6. Child Marriage
An estimated 140 million girls will become child brides between 2011 and 2020 . Girls who marry before age 18 are typically denied an education, at risk of complications related to premature childbearing, and more vulnerable to intimate partner violence.
7. Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (or FGM), defined by WHO as including “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons,” is a complex issue with religious and cultural implications for the groups who practice it in Africa. That said, the general consensus in the international community is that FGM imposes real health consequences, violates a child’s rights, and promotes inequality between the sexes. And it is a norm in some African commumities.
8. Gender Equality
Equality (or the lack thereof) is a recurring issue when it comes to women and girls, whether it’s unequal access to schooling for girls, or unequal pay for women in the workplace.
In a continent where 99% of countries are led by a male head of state, it’s clear that Africa as a community have a long way to go before women are given a fair shake.
9. Abuse and Insecurity in schools
Girls tend to suffer violence. From ages 15 and 24, about one out of every three girls have suffered violence one way or the other in school, either through sexual harassment, or rape.
10. Gender Discrimination
The gender gap in Afruca begins early, with girls spending 160 million more hours than boys in the same age group on house chores. This lead many girls in low-income households to drop out of school, get married early and spend their time cooking, cleaning and caring for family members. These restricted ambitions also manifest later, with fewer African women
represented in boardrooms or heading companies.
African fathers and mothers should focus on empowering the girl child so that she can stand shoulder to shoulder with her counterparts in developed nations.
When we focus on educating and empowering the girl child, the world would be a better place for us all. Allow the girl child to be everything she is created to be. Don’t dim her light, help her achieve her innermost dreams. Also focus on giving them quality education and social tools that will better their lives.