Championing Inclusion and Literacy to Embrace Digital Revolution for the Girl Child

By Lynnet Okumu / Published October 13, 2021 | 2:19 pm




KEY POINTS

Digital inclusion and literacy opens new avenues to learning, earning, and leading for the girl child, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Digital Revolution for the girl child

With the theme “Digital Generation. Our Generation”, international day of the Girl Child that was celebrated on Monday 11th October took a different focus this time around.

It sought to create awareness for girls to enable them to know their digital realities and the solutions they need to pave paths to freedom of expression, joy, and boundless potential

International Day of the Girl Child acknowledges the importance, power, and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening up of more opportunities for them.

At the same time helps to eliminate gender-based challenges that little girls face around the world, including international child marriages, poor learning opportunities, violence, and discrimination.

Girls are leaders. Girls are change-makers. Girls are driving good and growth around the world. They are a fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality, and technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism, and leadership.

The UN Women contends that “the 1.1 billion girls of today’s world are challenging the status quo. They’re redefining girlhood, and they’re doing so against the odds.” Just what are these odds, you might be wondering.

In 2021, the Generation Equality Forum launched five-year commitments for bolder solutions to gender inequality – just as the world entered the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to UNICEF, while the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning, and connecting, some 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 still do not have internet access at home.

ALSO READ: What is Child Online Protection And We Must Always Observe It?

Girls are more likely to be cut off. The gender gap for global internet users grew from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019. In the world’s least developed countries, it hovers around 43 percent.

The gender digital divide is about more than connectivity. Girls are also less likely than boys to use and own devices and gain access to tech-related skills and jobs.

Only by addressing the inequity and exclusion that span geographies and generations can we usher in a digital revolution for all, with all.

According to the UN Women, digital inclusion and literacy open new avenues to learning, earning, and leading for girls, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the pandemic has also deepened the gender divide around connectivity and online safety, with girls facing economic and social barriers to internet and device access.

It has been of great honor for the girlchild to have a day to be marked and celebrated but so far have they been celebrated and valued in Africa?

Religiously, we understand that all men are equal, but in Africa, it IS demonstrated how the female gender is still very far from being equal to their male counterparts.

The girl child is the mother of all children but in Africa, she still does not have value and place like he.

In many African cultures and societies, the girl child is still denied her human rights and sometimes her basic needs. She is at increased risk of sexual abuse and exploitation and other harmful practices that negatively affect her survival, development, and ability to achieve to her fullest potential.

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey report 2014, 45 percent of women and girls aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence and 14 percent have experienced sexual violence in Kenya.

The Girl Child Network, an organization aimed at empowering girls in East Africa to lead and learn asserts that “before her 18th birthday, one in four girls in Kenya is already married.” And before these girls are married, they’re expected to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM which is a very dangerous practice now and for the future well-being of the girl.

Despite global and national recognition of girl child rights, Kenya is still below the belt on gender inequality.

We listen now but do the exact opposite the next minute. Were prone to assumptions when it comes to this. Sometimes it’s just ignorance, inconsideration, and pride among the male gender.

Yes, Kenya has tried to make tremendous strides in the empowerment of girls through legislative and policy formulation as well as programmatic interventions that address the pressing needs of girls. Most of this has not been implemented especially in the wards and villages.

ALSO READ: KCB Foundation To Train 400 Youth In Meru

The mindset that a girl is a liability needs to be changed and this requires happening at the grassroots level. While spreading awareness is critical, there is a need of putting in place and implementing stricter laws that deter people from resorting to female destruction.

The role of education is extremely important here and goes a long way in empowering women. And the process of education has to begin early in life. More and more girl children need to be sent to school, provided quality and holistic education.

Technology is one major aspect of education that when embraced and used by the girl child the right way, we might be able to throw this issue into the den.

Numerous benefits come with educating girls the right way. Educated girls can take the right decisions in life. For example, when an educated girl makes a mistake or gets into trouble then she will be able to handle it with a positive attitude employing the proper skills taught in school.

At the same time, a society in which girls are educated will see fewer child marriages, decreased levels of poverty, and heightened participation of women in socio-economic processes.

Educating these young women have far-reaching impacts. It is rightly said that when a woman is educated, an entire generation is educated.

There is a need to enhance the call and commitment at both national and county levels to give girls a voice.

Girls must be able to access information and services related to sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, menstrual hygiene as well as addressing gender-based violence and other harmful cultural practices as FGM and child marriage through prevention, protection, and response services.

It needs to be established that girls are in no way less than the boy. When given the right chances to nurture their talent and skills, they have it in them to excel in different areas of life.

It is therefore imperative that both government and non-government organizations work in cohesion to spread the message of saving and educating the girl child

The world must ensure that girls, especially in developing countries, can reap the benefits of the technological revolution that has reshaped the life of every human being.

ALSO READ: Did You Know That Kenyan Children Have Several Acts That Protect Them?

When COVID-19 necessitated unprecedented public health measures such as frequent lockdowns and closure of schools and businesses, societies with advanced digital technology we’re able to ensure the continuity of learning and economic productivity.

We must ensure that girls in developing countries are part of the digital transformation. Otherwise, they will continue to be left behind as a result of the digital divide.

At the moment, millions of illiterate girls who never enrolled in schools or dropped out of schools due to poverty, early marriage, and pregnancy have little hope to be part of the digital generation.

So, let us join our efforts to educate every girl and protect each one of them from all the evils surrounding them.







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