As the world in 2016 renews its resolve to stand and support the development of the girl child, I began to reflect on what the place of the girl child is in many contexts; and how the girl child develops into a woman, strong, established, full of zeal and achieving her big dreams. I have looked at my progress from my childhood days and the role my father played in ensuring his 3 girl children are strengthened, established and supported to live a life of fulfillment achieving their biggest goals.
As girls growing up in the part of Nigeria where male children are seen as critical heirs we were placed at the center and core of development. We were equipped with education and the historical achievement of series of women in the family, who against what the world believed in early 60’s, took their place in the society and accomplished their life goals.
Education is an essential ingredient in placing the girl child to stand out and conquer exceptionally in the wave of competing views, thoughts and culture. It is a requirement for positioning her for personal, national and global development engagements. Education goes beyond the four walls of a classroom to the interactions within the family and society, based on social norms. Education has its elements in the cultural perception of a people. It is critical to look at education of the girl child from the perspective where she lives beyond the cultural connotations of “I am a girl, a wife to be, below or inferior to my brother”. Culture is not fixed, culture can be modified and culture can be changed but most times its adaption is slow paced.
In taking a stand for the girl child we must believe and be convinced without wavering, that there is equality of the human person. That a boy child and girl child have equal attributes and should be given equal opportunities to develop and grow. As parents, family members, individuals and society, we understand the long-term effect on our development, of continued relegation and exclusions of the girl child. It is clear that perpetuation of inequalities in our homes, in our workplace, at management levels and even in government stems from not addressing the root cause hidden in culture.
We must therefore move from mere conventional education of the girl child to helping acknowledge her capability in making fundamental changes, leading people in workplaces, business, management and governments and impacting the world positively without the notation that the space is for the male gender.