TODAY, I ARISE!
TODAY, I ARISE!
Greetings! I am Lady Jane Ndukwe; Founder, Genuine Womanhood Initiative, a social reform group using Etiquette, Character modification and Education to promote true humanity.
Tomorrow, 11TH OCTOBER, 2020, is the UNITED NATIONS’ INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD and I am lending my voice with this presentation titled: TODAY I ARISE!
This year’s theme is MY VOICE; OUR EQUAL FUTURE! This theme speaks volumes. It paints an unforgettable picture: The plight of the girl child! This theme shows that the voice of the girl child has been silenced for too long by abuse, rejection, denial and injustice.
The girl child is seen as inferior from birth. This is why a man will beat and chase away his wife for bearing him a female child instead of the revered male child. The girl child is considered unworthy of education; after all, she will end up as someone’s wife. She is only fit for house chores, cooking, bearing and raising children. Are these tasks demeaning? Of course not but when they are drummed into the girl child as being her only task in life, this becomes demeaning to the high status of womanhood. Do I venture into who a woman ought to be? Not yet!
The girl child is seen as an object of a man’s pleasure. He takes of her body without consent and we call it rape. He forces himself on her and she is expected to oblige him and enjoy it. Did I say, enjoy it? It really does not matter to the man if she enjoys it or not, she’s expected to comply. After all, what else is she there for other than to satisfy him. When she complains, she is beaten and told to be quiet. After all, a good girl never complains; she simply complies with every demand of the man. Isn’t this what makes her submissive and well trained? Well trained by who I ask?
When she wants an education, she’s expected to give her body for grades. When she cries out for help, she’s again told to be quiet. When she goes in search of a job, she’s expected to give her body before she gets the job. When she works in a restaurant or should I call it by its proper name, a buka, she becomes the desert for the men who patronize these places. When she works in a home, she becomes the sex toy for the man of the house or his son. When she gets pregnant for the man who promised her marriage and a good life, he denies her, dumps her and she is thrown out of the home because she has brought shame to the family. What about the man who got her pregnant? He simply moves on and marries a girl of his choice with a grand wedding and even dares to call his former girl a cheap prostitute with no home training.
To ensure that the girl child is not promiscuous, her external female genitalia, is cut off to keep her in check. We call this female genital mutilation, which, sadly, is still practiced in some places. To prevent her from unfolding her true self and having a voice, she is married off at age eight or nine to a man old enough to be her grandfather. She’s expected to satisfy him and become his blood tonic. This, girl who is barely a child, gets pregnant, bears a child and ends up with Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), which is an opening between the vagina and bladder, where urine constantly leaks from the bladder into the vagina. Is she pitied and helped, NO! She becomes damaged good and often called smelly and husband marries another girl. In some cultures, the girl child, when married, is bound by an oath of fidelity. If she violates this, she dies or goes insane.
When she’s privileged to have a father who has property to bequeath his children, she’s left out and told that girls do not inherent property. Need I go on or is this painful picture of the girl child engrained in your mind’s eye? I ask, is it a crime to be female?
Today, we are calling for the voice of the girl child to be heard. This has to start from our homes. How do we treat our children? Is the boy child seen as king and given everything to make his life comfortable? Is the girl child still being subjected to servitude and humiliation? Can you answer this simple question: if you were treated like the girl child I portrayed, would you be happy? The Golden rule says, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!’ Why then do we destroy the life of the girl child? Why do we trample upon her?
The girl child is a human being with feelings. She has dreams of her own. She wants to be given a chance to express the treasures that lie deep within her. She wants to be respected and valued. She wants to love and be loved.
Today, the girl child is calling for this chance. Today, she tells the world, ‘I am worthy! I have a voice! I have a part to play in this world! When I arise, there will be balance, peace and joy for all.’ Everything in Creation swings in balance. Keeping the girl child silent, hidden and abused distorts the concept of balance and beauty.
TODAY, I ARISE!
Many girls are now breaking boundaries and barriers to optimize opportunities therein:
- MALALA YOUSAFZAI is a Pakistani human rights advocate known for her activism in promoting education for girls. At age 17, she received the Nobel Peace Prize.
- ALEXANDRA SCOTT was diagnosed with a form of pediatric cancer before her first birthday. When she was four years old, she set up her first lemonade stand in front of her house to raise money for childhood cancer research.
- SOPHIE CRUZ in 2015, when she was five years old, wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking that her parents who were undocumented immigrants, not be deported from the United States. Since then, Cruz has continued to advocate for immigration rights.
- KHLOE THOMPSON at age eight founded Khloe Kares, an organization that works to empower people experiencing homelessness. She has provided thousands of kare bags to local homeless shelters, spreading positivity and compassion throughout her community in the United States.
- AIJA MAYROCK was bullied in school. Now at 23 years old, she is a bestselling author of the book, ‘The Survival Guide to Bullying.’ She’s also an activist and role model for young girls.
- FIVE NIGERIAN SCHOOL GIRLS FROM REGINA PACIES SECONDARY SCHOOL ONITSHA won gold medal at the world Technovation Challenge in 2019 at Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA. These girls developed an app that would make it easy for people to make donations to help the needy pay for school fees, food, shoes, books, stationery, medication and more. These girls known as the ‘Brain squad,’ were AYOMIKUN ARIYO, IVANA MORDI, JADESOLA KASSIM, MUNACHISO CHIGBO and PANDORA ONYEDIRE.
If we look around us we will see our daughters and students doing all they can to rise above the challenges that stare them in their faces. They want to change the narrative and write their names in the sands of time. It is our duty as parents, guardians and teachers to encourage them to become the best versions of themselves. We must create an enabling environment for them to thrive. We must empower our girls to become agents of change. Train a girl and you train a nation! Girls and women are a treasure to human development. A girl who receives quality education will grow up to become tomorrow’s worker, mother, entrepreneur, mentor and political leader. She will bring value to the society and accelerate social change. There is no tomorrow if the girl child is unable to come to full blossom of what her Creator designed her to be. Today, she arises! TODAY, I ARISE!
Lady Jane Ndukwe
Founder, Genuine Womanhood Initiative