On International Day of the Girl, “Let a girl be a girl”
On October 11, the International Day of the Girl Child, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has called for a universal concept of ‘let a girl be a girl’ until they reach full maturity.
According to UNFPA (UN Population Fund), more than 640 million women alive today were married in childhood. In the developing world, nearly one in three women begins bearing children in adolescence. Twelve million adolescents give birth each year.
SPA national president Jenny Goldie says girls are not commodities that can be married off at an early age for the benefit of their families, even in cases of extreme poverty.
“Girls should have the same rights as boys,” says Ms Goldie. “They should be allowed equal nutrition, equal access to health services, equal education, and equal opportunity; in short, equal rights. They should be allowed to marry when they choose to do so.
“Adolescent girls should have comprehensive sexuality education and access to contraception to ensure they have control over their own bodies. Not only should they decide when they are ready to marry, but if and when they will bear children.
“If they are to have equal education and equal opportunities in the workforce, they should delay pregnancy until they are educated. Educated women have fewer children and the reduction in birth-rates will, in turn, reduce pressures on resources and the environment, making life better for all.”
The theme for the 2023 International Day of the Girl is “Digital generation. Our generation.”
“Girls face disadvantages online,” says Ms Goldie. “2.2 billion people under the age of 25 do not have internet access, with the majority being girls.
“Access to the internet has enormous educational benefits, although it is not without its challenges, especially for girls and their use of social media. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a ‘net’ good, providing opportunity for communications with other young people that might otherwise be impossible. It is not difficult to imagine what it might offer the young women of Afghanistan who are otherwise denied access to education and regular social interaction with peers.
“It is important that we allow our daughters and granddaughters to enjoy life as children and adolescents. It is the critical first step towards a healthy and successful adulthood and the fulfilment of enormous potential that lies within each.”