Empowering the next generation of leaders is a noble endeavour and a fundamental responsibility in our rapidly advancing world. The Day of the Girl Child is celebrated every year on the 11th of October to remind us of the need to create an enabling environment that allows women and girls to thrive and make meaningful contributions to the development of their communities.
With the support of our partners, Amref Health Africa celebrated the incredible milestones achieved by the Nice Place Foundation in providing educational opportunities and shelter to girls who are at risk of gender-based violence, especially female genital mutilation (FGM) and early forced child marriages (ECFM).
This year’s theme, “Invest in Girls’ Rights! Our Leadership! Our Well-being emphasizes the capability that lies within the girl child. When empowered, girls can inspire, innovate, and influence change. They are not just leaders of tomorrow; they are leaders today. By providing them equal opportunities, education, and support, we unlock a reservoir of talent and potential to drive our societies, economies, and communities forward.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya congratulates the leadership of the Nice Place Foundation for their unwavering commitment to ensuring that the rights of Maasai girls are protected. The glittering faces of 60 graduating young girls, equipped with leadership, computer, life skills and the ability to champion the rights of all, shimmered the occasion. The ceremony reminds us that girls are capable and can transition to womanhood without undergoing FGM or other retrogressive cultural practices such as early marriages.
The ceremony, graced by the deputy governor of Kajiado County, illustrated the commitment of local leaders in championing positive cultural practices that embody equality. Investing in girl child is investing in progress, equality, and the limitless potential of humanity. It is our shared responsibility to work collaboratively with local leaders, including village elders, religious leaders, nyumba kumi leaders, and the local administration (chiefs), to ensure that girls’ rights are protected. This was emphasized by the deputy governor, Martin Mooshisho when he called on all stakeholders to work together to support the prosperity of girls. “Let us work together to create a world where every girl can become the leader she was meant to be,” he said.
On his part, Dr. Ndirangu Wanjuki, the Country Director of Amref Health Africa in Kenya, emphasized that girls’ rights are human rights. “Investing in girls’ rights promotes equality and sends a powerful message to the world that everyone, regardless of gender, deserves equal opportunities, respect, and dignity. Creating a world where girls know that their dreams are valid, their voices matter, and their aspirations are achievable is essential,” he said.
“Investing in girls’ rights means breaking down cultural, societal, and economic barriers. It means challenging norms and fostering inclusivity. When we stand up for girls’ rights, we are fostering a world where everyone has a chance to thrive regardless of gender. It is about creating a society where opportunities are determined by talent, passion, and dedication, not limited by gender,” said Nice Lengete, Founder of Nice Place Foundation.
According to a report by UNICEF in 2012, about 400 million women aged 20-49, which is equivalent to 41% of women in this age group worldwide, are married before turning 18. Despite the decrease in the percentage of child brides over the last three decades, child marriage is still prevalent in some areas, particularly in remote communities.
As we seek mechanisms to address the challenges posed by gender-based violence (GBV), it is crucial to acknowledge that early and forced marriages violate the rights of women and girls worldwide. This practice undermines efforts to increase education, reduce maternal mortality, and promote employment and entrepreneurship. The involvement of parents and communities in these marriages negatively affects girls’ education, limiting their opportunities for social, economic, and political participation. Therefore, as we strive to combat gender-based violence, we must also address the harmful effects of early and forced marriages.
Girls’ rights are human rights, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they have the freedom to learn, express themselves, and thrive. We must break down barriers, challenge norms, and create a world where every girl’s potential is limitless. Let’s join forces to champion their rights and build a future of true equality!
Author: Noah Wekesa W. – Amref Health Africa