Young students commemorate International Day of the Girl Child in Malakal
Poetry recitals, songs and drama performances.
That’s how young girls at Bander School in Malakal, Upper Nile state, marked October 11—the International Day of the Girl Child.
Given that women and young girls in South Sudan were among the worst affected by conflict and civil war, this Day had special meaning as young students used these creative outlets to depict instances of sexual and gender-based violence that they or their community members have faced.
Supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), through its Child Protection Unit and humanitarian partners, the message sent out by these young students resonated with everybody attending the event.
“Every girl has the same right to education, the same right to opportunities as a boy,” said Kweku Adoah Bassaw, a Child Protection Officer serving with the UN Peacekeeping mission.
“This year’s global theme is ‘Digital Generation, Our Generation,’ but before South Sudan aims to bridge the digital divide between genders, it is important that we acknowledge the social inequity and cultural norms that continue disadvantaging girls,” he continued.
“Even more critical is for community members to solemnly vow that they will do everything they can to ensure that their daughters will receive the same education and opportunities as they afford their sons. This is essential for South Sudan to build a sustainable and equitable peace in the longer term. Girls are leaders. Girls can change societies and they have an equal right to participate fully in all walks of life,” he emphasized.
For his part, Mohammad Idris Khan from UNICEF disclosed that South Sudan is among top 10 countries with highest rate of child marriage. “50 per cent of schoolgirls drop out before reaching the university level because they are married off by their families at a young age. This not only disrupts their education but also puts them at risk of violence and domestic abuse. This has to stop,” he stated.
Ensuring the full and equal participation of women in decision-making, politics and peacebuilding remains a key goal for UNMISS.