Girls in developing countries
"Watoto wote wana haki sawa!"
All children have equal rights !
Many people might wonder why just the point of promoting girls is so close to our hearts. The explanation is as simple as sad:
It is a fact that girls are doubled disadvantaged worldwide: because they are female and because they are young.
In case of illness girls are often not medically treated. They are more often exposed to physical and mental violence. They suffer early marriage and have children at a very young age. Girls and young women are particularly affected by child trafficking as well as by economical and sexual explotation. Some of them are not even being born: in many countries female fetuses are being aborted.
But all of this is not just bad luck: It is a violation of human rights!!
Very often families do not appreciate the value of a high education and they prefer to have their daughters work at home. Furthermore, girls are often experiencing unwanted pregnancy and thus have to get married. Many of them are suffering sexualized violence at school. If the school is located far away from home – which is often the case regarding secondary schools – many parents are afraid that something bad could happen to their daughters on their way to school.
Education is more than the ability to read and to write
Education is having an influence on young girls in many aspects. Education is a lot more than acquiring skills in maths, reading and writing. High education should provide girls with skills of life in order to enable them to live a self-determined life and to make their own decisions, for example reagarding their reproductive health. An educated girl will marry later and have less children.
She has better chances to raise her children in good health and is less defenceless when facing any kind of violence. It is evident that a higher level of education in women leads to increase of productivity.
There is another cause why girls do not attend school steadily. Quite often this problem even leads to school drop out. This cause is practically never mentioned – it is sheer a taboo and for us, here in Europe, it is not imaginable.
The girls cannot participate in classes during their menstruation. Why? Because they cannot afford to buy sanitary products. Sanitary pads are absolute luxury goods. Sometimes the girls have little pieces of cloth which are only limited absorptive and need to be rinsed several times a day. But usually they don´t have anything. Scarcely any girl owns more than two underpants – most of them have just a single one. Due to a lack of protection the girls cannot attend classes. Of course this regular absence leads to missing big parts of the subjects taught which, in turn, often causes school drop out.
This matter of fact has boosted our desire for building an all-female education center.
Mara´s key moment regarding this matter: „... I will never forget when I went to the market to go shopping with my 16 years old sponsored girl child and some of her friends for the first time. I had given about 20 Euros to each of them telling them to buy whatever they wanted. The only condition was that they had to buy a pair of shoes for school (sturdy black shoes that belong to the school uniform). After these shoes had been bought all the girls went to a booth where sanitary articles were sold. Each of the girls bought a load of sanitary pads. Maybe you can imagine how stunned I was. I am sure that these girls were happier about the pads than some teenager here who is given a tablet pc as a present. From the money that was left the girls bought soap, ordinary skin cream, underwear and a jacket each. This shopping day has deeply moved me and it told me that I, too – although I think that I know a lot about the realities of life of people in East Africa – have been too much unconcerned about things that are naturally for us.
Here is a gorgeous video that has been recorded by famous singers from different African countries on the occasion of the first „International day of the girl child“ for Plan RESA (Region East and South Africa)
Subsequent some facts and numbers taken from the „Girls´survey“ of Plan International:
As the increasing number of female foeticide in some countries shows girls are being discriminated in their mothers´ wombs already. This is why approximately 100 million are lacking in these societies.
- Approximately 450 million women in developing countries are undersize due to a permanent lack of proteine during their childhood.
Millions of girls in developing countries are facing early marriage. They have to live with the risks caused by this fact which are affecting their education, their health and their economical opportunities.
In the Subsahara region for example 60 out of one hundred girls between 15 and 19 years of age are married as existing law for their protection is not put into practice.
-Approximately 140 million girls and women have been genitally mutilated. Every year approximately another 2 million girls are affected.
65 million girls at primary school age are not attending school. This is more than all girls of North America and Europe taken together.
- Even though the education of girls in the northern countries has improved women are still paid less money for the same work than men. Moreover, women are more often doing low salary work.
The leading cause of death for young women aged 15 to 19 in developing countries is pregnancy. Half a million women are dying every year due to complications during pregnancy.
- Girls and women are meanwhile more at risk to be infected by the HI-Virus than men. 59 per cent of HIV positive people over 15years of age in the Subsahara region are female.
90 per cent of the children working in foreign households are girls aged 12 to 17 years. They are highly at risk of sexual and economic explotation and they are often victims of violence and abuse.