International Day of the Girlchild
The importance of the empowerment of young girls and the promotion of their rights along with those of women has, and ought to be, in the spotlight because of last Wednesday’s “International Day of the Girlchild” and Sunday’s “International Day for Rural Women.” The frequency of child marriage, sex trafficking, the disparity in access to education along with all the other impediments that result from gender inequality, requires for further acknowledgment of the rights and distinctive challenges endured by girls and women across the globe. Despite the leaps and bounds made towards gender equality, highly influenced by goal no. 5 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the victimhood of women and girls remains significant. It has been noted that not a single country in the world has fully remedied the violence or discrimination of gender inequality despite the undeniable understanding that its consequences worsen the circumstances of conflict, disasters, and crises for women and girls.
Studies show that over 130 million girls worldwide are not in school and the overall lack of education for girls has been identified as a global crisis that perpetuates poverty. Not only is the issue of girls in need of education a compounded concern, but rural women in particular, who are recognized as important sources of food provisions within their local communities, are etched out of owning land, and access to finances is primarily afforded only to their male counterparts in certain societies. For so long, the World Food Programme has emphasized the indispensable role of women in conflict and crises, highlighting that when humanitarian aid lands in their hands, there is a greater likelihood in the mitigation of malnourishment and hunger, and overall, distinct relief in crises. The minimalizing of gender equality leaves girls and women more vulnerable to child marriage, gender-based violence, sexually transmitted infections and they become more at risk of poverty and the ailments that come along with it.
In support of the objectives of SDG 5, the movement towards the empowerment of women and girls continues to be propelled under various guises, including the general discussion on the advancement of women and education that was held by the Third Committee of the General Assembly on October 5th. With increasing awareness of the violence propelled against women and mindfulness of the benefits access to education for girls garners, debate and discourse on the issue on how to respond to this crisis becomes more substantive and more critical.
Opinions on the Empowerment of Women and Girls
- Laurence Butet-Roch, from the New York Times, admires photographer Stephanie Sinclair’s commitment to young girls that had been forced to marry as children and victims of sexual violence, including female genital mutilation and young girls forced to serve older males. Sinclair reveals to Butet- Roch her view of photography as a means of expression for these young women to conceptualize their unique experiences.
- In tribute to The International Day of Rural Women, Naomi Lanoi Leleito argues in the Daily Nation that rural women are an essential resource for rural and agricultural development. Despite this, development is hindered alongside the income of rural women that lack ownership of land. Gender inequality tied to cultural practices undercuts the benefits of women in agriculture and the capacity of rural women.
- In The Guardian (Nigeria) Laure Beaufils argues that education is key in deterring child marriage, sexual violence, and the overall perpetuation of male dominance in society. Provided evidence reveals that education of girls is central to improve the overall livelihood of families, regarding health, economic outcomes and general quality of life.
What We are Reading in IR
- Writing for Vox , Sean Illing recounts a series of interviews he conducted at Yale with 20 of America’s top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy and they’re scared. Worth reading at length, Illing’s interviews with political scientists paint a dark picture of American democracy, where economic stagnation, political polarization and the breakdown of democratic norms are converging to challenge many’s faith in democracy itself.
- The Economist’s Michael Reid, writing in his Bello column argues that it is Time to bury Che Guevara for good: The left needs a more democratic icon. Writing on the anniversary of the Argentine revolutionary’s death, Reid remarks that Latin American Left clings to Che and exults his struggle against American Imperialism. Reid says that although Che’s story of struggle and sacrifice may be alluring to those on the left, if they wish to move forward, Democrats not revolutionaries should become their icons.
- Writing in Foreign Policy, CFR’s Steven Cook argues that The American Alliance with Turkey Was Built On a Myth. Cook claims that the narrative of a western facing Turkey was always an inflated narrative and now that the threat of Soviet aggression has passed there is little to keep the once allies of convivence connected.
Compiled by Chiazam T Onyenso