The 11th day of October of every year has been set aside as the International Day for the Girl Child. This is a day adopted by the UN General Assembly with the sole aim of accelerating girls’ development.
The primal focus is to give girls access to empowerment, equal opportunities, ensure they are free from gender-based violence and discrimination; access to adequate health facilities, proper education and educational facilities etc.
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The theme for 2021 girls’ day is “ Digital generation, Our generation”. The UN stated that girls are less likely to have access to tech devices, thus, have less chances than boys to be exposed to tech related skills and jobs. Thus, the call this year is to give equal access to the Internet and other digital facilities and devices to girls.
It is understood that digital literacy will open new avenues for learning, opportunities and warning for girls. Therefore, around the world, many nations have adopted mechanism that aims at exposing more girls to tech skills.
Incidentally, the outbreak of the pandemic exposed further the relevance of technology and having access to it
It showed that it is more a necessity than luxury. With technology, budding entrepreneurs stumbled upon new opportunities to venture into small businesses and be online merchants.
In our dear nation Nigeria, we are still grappling with many gender issues so much so that when it comes to access to digital education and technology driven skills, girls remain disadvantaged because of low level access and usage. We are yet to overcome accessing basic necessities, how much more digitalising.
Taking it further down North, the situation is more complex and dire, thus making it seem irredeemable.
This is because we tend to focus more on issues that are not determinants of development. We deliberately refuse to move in that direction.
We are still a region grappling with the debate whether Western education is compulsory or a necessity for the girl child.
We have the highest number of-out-of school children and by implication, the number is higher for girls than boys.
We are still a region that still gives out underaged girls in early marriages with many negative consequences.
We are that region that worries more about not just early marriage but ensuring that the child is married off haphazardly to fulfill a religious and cultural obligation while deliberately neglecting the religious obligation of educating the girl child.
We are still a region that worries more about a woman being submissive in marriage and in strong terms abhor girls with higher education than think of ways for development and empowerment for the girl child.
We are still a region that hides under the cloak of religion to perpetuate discrimination, marginalisation and gender based violence all in the name of protecting girls and women, when our religion has already laid out guidelines for achieving full rights for the female, so who send them to fight?
With all the above, who is even talking about digitalization for girl child in northern Nigeria.
Maryam Hamza, Ph.D writes from Kaduna.