By Mpho Shelile

MASERU – International Day of the Girl Child is held to increase awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide. The vast spectrum of inequality faced by girls all over the world is an issue that remains prominent in modern society. It is stated that the inequalities faced today include areas such as: the right to education, legal, medical and family rights. The International Day of the Girl Child is also a celebration of the successful emergence of girls and young women as a driving force in developmental policy and campaign research.

This year, the theme for the International Day of Girl Child is ‘Amplify Her Voice’. Highlighting the unique challenges girls and young women face in their daily lives and celebrating their progress and spotlighting their important calls for action. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Lesotho held an event at Mantšonyane at the St James Hospital on the 14th of October to educate girls about their rights and give them sanitary pads.

In his opening remarks the CEO of St. James Hospital, Mr. Pefole Pefole stated that the  International Day of the Girl Child focuses on raising awareness about the need to empower and support girls in all aspects of their lives, including education, healthcare, and their rights. “I believe we should encourage actions and policies that promote gender equality and create a more inclusive and equitable world for girls not only in Mantšonyane but across the country”, emphasized Pefole.

The festivities of the day included a march to raise awareness of gender-based violence. The likes of domestic violence and child marriages were highlighted. Mr Pefole wants to make every girl aware of their rights. The CEO of St. James Hospital pointed out the importance of making young girls aware of the detriment and widespread of gender-based violence. Women and girls are disproportionately subjected to many forms of violence, including but not limited to sexual violence, intimate partner violence, trafficking and child marriages. So he urged all Basotho to stand together in making sure that every girl child is well taken care of.     

In her speech, Mrs. Sebabatso Lentsoenyane from the AHF clinic indicated that various organizations and individuals commemorate this day through different events, campaigns, and initiatives that promote the well-being and empowerment of girls. Both in their communities and globally. These efforts aim to create a world where girls can realize their full potential and contribute to building a better future for themselves.

She further indicated that when she was growing up there were no days such as Day of the Girl Child. Girls of today are fortunate to have this kind of support. “Today we hope to dispense information to you girls about your rights and hygiene, we are also going to listen to you guys, hear you, and come up with ways in which we can help you achieve a world where all your voices are heard”, she said.

“We will host activities that include raising awareness on gender-based violence, domestic violence, and child marriage. To make girls aware of their rights in the society. As we mark the International Day of the Girl Child, let us renew our commitment to investing in girls’ rights. Let us ensure that every girl has access to quality education, health care, and other essential services. Let us protect them from all forms of violence and discrimination. And let us empower them to become leaders in their communities and countries”, She concluded by calling out to all parents to hear their children and build better relationships with them, adding that it is important as the community to work together in making sure that their girls are well taken care of.

On behalf of Paray Hospital, Sister Clara Rakhomo emphasized that she was there to motivate the girls and to advise them on the possibilities of a brighter future, “I want you girls to never give up on education and always aspire to be our future leaders, you should know your worth as a girl, and know that you are important. Forget about dating for now and focus more on becoming a better person in the future”. She concluded by mentioning inspiring women from around the world who are at the heart of the movement for change to amplify the voices of many girls. Sister Clara left the girls with a quote from Sierra Leone-based Josephine Kamara: a powerful activist and a survivor of sexual assault. “I want change, not just for my younger self but for all the girls around the world”, she urged all the world leaders to act now to transform education and make the world a better place for every girl child out there.  

From social welfare, Mrs. Hape Lekhoana said that to end GBV they will continue to support and amplify their voices for the protection and well-being of girls across the world. “Gender-based violence exists in every country across the world, and the devastating impact on the rights, development, dignity, and futures of countless girls often lasts a lifetime. So we should be fighting for the rights of our girls, we should also help put an end to young girls getting married just so we get to benefit as parents. If our children know about their rights, they will know to participate in larger dialogues and speak up about the issues they are facing”, she concluded.