By Erick Akasa
Child rights organisation Plan International supported girls across the world to
Stage a historic “takeover” in observance of the International Day of the Girl. From Kenya to
Canada, leading figures in political economic and social spheres stepped aside for girls to take charge.
By occupying spaces and places where they are rarely seen or heard, girls are calling on governments to tear down the barriers that deny thousands of them equal opportunities. The struggle to achieve equality has been hampered due to unsuccessful vital data that is either incomplete or missing. The global action pushes to the forefront the need for making girls and their realities visible.
According to the world gender inequality statistics, Kenya is ranked 103 out of 169 countries, making it the 66th most unequal country in the world. The inequality is deeply rooted in the country’s social, historical and economic organisation. This is a key factor resulting in the lack of access to essential services by the most marginalized communities, with children bearing the greatest burden.
Speaking at a photographic exhibit hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya in support of the Day, Plan International Kenya’s Country Director Ms Carol Sherman acknowledged that while problems relating to the girl child are deeply embedded in societies, overwhelming support from different stakeholders was on the rise. “There is no country in the world where girls experience true gender equality. The idea of the ‘takeover’ is therefore a powerful statement of girls’ power and their ability to positively contribute to the nation,” said Ms Sherman. The photographic exhibit showcased challenges and successes of girls across Kenya.
The National Director of Children Services, Mr Noah Sanganyi set the scene on 4 October when he stepped down for 13 year old Louis. “It was good to have Louis takeover as
Director of Children Services and hold discussions with staff. A few years from now, I would like her to be the Director of this organisation. I will follow up on her progress and keep in touch with her development,” said Mr Sanganyi.
Discrimination results in girls and women remaining largely invisible in key areas of power and influence. Only 10 out of 152 elected Heads of State worldwide are women, and women head only 14 of 194 governments. Fewer than 4% of CEOs heading the world’s 500 leading corporations are women. In Kenya, all 47 Governors and 47 elected Senators are men.
Achieving gender equality is one of the Global Goals that were agreed by world leaders in
2015 and which promise to transform the world by 2030. Plan International is warning that without an urgent step-change by governments, this goal, alongside others, cannot be realized.
Dr. Fred Matiangi, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Education, Science and Technology assured girls that the Government is committed to their welfare and has set aside 400 million
Kenya Shillings to go towards free sanitary pads for girls program. “This was after Joyce, a 13 year old girl, asked why sanitary pads cannot be availed to all girls in Kenya for free.
“Last year when I took leadership at the helm of education ministry, I found that 3000 girls did their national exams in maternity condition, I don’t want to deal with such kind of statistics again hence we at the ministry have agreed with the Teachers Service Comission that, If the curlprits who destroy our girls lives come from our ranks we will deal with them mercilessly and if they are from outside our ranks in the education sector, we have talked to the ministry of interior and Coordination of National Government and they will not go unpunished,”said Matiang’i.
Plan International’s report: Counting the Invisible, released on 3 October, shows that no credible statistics exist worldwide that show the real life challenges of girls, such as how many drop out of school due to early marriage, pregnancy or sexual violence, or how many girls become mothers under the age of 15.