A gender activist, Deborah Owhin, has called on Nigerians and civil society organisations to raise their voices in defence of the girl child.
She made the call during the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child (#IDGC2021) yesterday, October 11 with the theme: Digital generation, our generation.
The theme, according to her, brings the chance for active participation online and in-person through promoting awareness through media outlets, company websites, social media and blogs.
“This #IDGC2021 it is time to recognize achievement of girls, host conversations about the needs of girls, amplify the issues of girls by supporting a local community group, celebrate the girls in your life and share a special moment from your childhood online via social media,” she said.
Owhin urged governments, non-governmental organisations and business leaders to help solve the challenge, including access to education and quality education. the girl child is being faced globally;
She said girls, globally, lacked access to education due to poor infrastructure, poverty, cultural practices, child marriage, gender-based violence, political fragility, and families choosing to invest in male children only.
“Many hoped that access to education through technology would help to reduce gender inequality, however, girls remain marginalized globally.
“As a child, I had early access to the internet at home, after school I would immerse myself online.
“I loved Minesweeper and Solitaire, I would brainstorm ideas to beat my last score/ time. I believe this contributed to my interest to develop strategies and empower women and girls.
“I realized that many of my school friends only had access to computers at school. More than 25 years later, things remain the same. Girls still lack access to technology, which became apparent when schools globally shut down and many moved to online learning during the shut down due to the pandemic.
“The pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting for many, however over two billion people under 25 years still do not have internet access at home.
“We know this must change if we want to see the gender gap close and need men and boys to continue to partner and stand with those championing access to education and digital platforms,” she said.
She acknowledged the face of survivors of abuse has changed as the #MeToo movement has provided a space for girls to be seen, heard, protected, believed, and supported as they share their experiences of abuse and seek justice.
“Schools are the first place where girls begin to develop relationships with those in authority outside of their family, they should be safe and free from harm from teachers or boy students,” she said.
“The girl child faces High-profile sexual abuse cases globally from the Taliban shutting down access to education for girls in Afghanistan to the sexual molestation of US Olympic Gymnast at the hands of Larry Nasser and countless women testifying about being trafficked for sex as girls he met outside their schools by Robert Kelly leading to his recent conviction,” she said.
Owhin is a globally recognized gender equality expert with a focus on ending and preventing violence against women and girls.
She is a graduate from Spelman College, a Historically Black College and University based in Atlanta Georgia, and received her MBA from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where she studied Psychology and Strategy respectively.
Owhin has an extensive career advocating for girls, which started as a child being elected captain of her class at 11 years old and the first Black Student Union President at 16.