“A woman should be two things: who and what she wants” - Coco Chanel.
Gender Inequality has been roaring its fierce teeth for decades on decades but little has changed and now with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, girls' safety concerns are on the rise.
Now more than ever, Interventions to protect and empower girls are needed. In this blog today, drawing from four focus group discussions with experts and community members in the identification of key safety issues concerning girls, here are eight (8) safety concerns faced by girls in and how best as a society we can help solve those.
1. Period Poverty; globally, an estimated 500 million girls who menstruate lack access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities.
- Providing education to dispel myths and stigma surrounding menstruation, as well as teach girls how to make reusable pads using material off-cuts.
2. Dependency Syndrome; society has groomed girls to believe they need a man to provide and be responsible for them, without a man in their lives, women and girls are seen as not whole. This action has caused ripple effects such as girls staying in abusive and toxic relationships, covering up for perpetrators of crimes as well as having sugar daddies/blessers.
- It is essential to break out of this thought and start teaching girls financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills and their importance and power in sustaining themselves.
3. Weak Justice System; Access to justice is often hampered by the poor quality of police investigation, bribery, mismanagement of evidence, victim intimidation, and long sentencing turnaround.
- There is an urgent need for the creation of a fast-track court and more women representation in roles of authority to adequately respond to girl safety issues and advocate for stricter laws and practices.
4. Victim Abandonment; Justice systems take care more of the perpetrator than the victim i.e. Human and monetary resources are seldom available for victims, especially where psycho-social support and counseling are needed.
- Interventions such as therapy and safe houses need to be made available at a minimal to a no-cost fee.
Empowering girls is giving them their rights and making sure they are able to do everything they set their motivations on.
5. Victim Shaming; Survivors of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, or any other kind of wrongful act committed towards them face ridicule and judgment for stepping forward and speaking out. They are blamed entirely or partially for the harm that befell them. For example; a rape victim is blamed for the act because of their dressing.
- Creation of safe spaces where girls can open up and find solace without shame and fear of judgment, as well as education on perception.
6. Harmful Cultural Norms; certain cultural norms such as female genital mutilation and modification, are traditional teachings give girls the thought pattern that their purpose is for men’s pleasure and thus are more likely to fall prey to predators.
- Education on the drastic harm it has and the alternatives to such.
7. Limited Knowledge; Many girls are unaware of their rights, the different types of abuse, and available reporting systems or lines available. Hence, they do nothing when their safety is violated.
- An extensive education on their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
8. Mindset; Society teaches girls to shrink themselves. “a girl should be seen, not heard” Because of this, girls tend to value the opinions of others, a vulnerability that leads to low self-esteem.
- Teaching and speaking into from a young age the importance of self-value and their human rights.
Girls should have equal rights in everything that they do.
HoSAI is all about equipping and allowing girls to make all the decisions relating to their lives through the different problems in society using a holistic approach that covers both internal (mind, emotion, culture) and external (body, society, environment) aspects. It removes the middleman and puts girls at the center of the solution.
It includes ensuring a well-rounded (internal&external safety) upbringing of a girl and raising their status through education, career, literacy, training, and other aspects of life and is essential because empowering girl’s is giving them their rights and making sure they are able to do everything they set their motivations on.
Female empowerment is defined as promoting girls’ self-worth and their ability to do things based on their own choices and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.
Safety is not only crucial at home but everywhere.
Kabuku Chileshe Kabwela is an embodiment of multiple skills, talents, and interests that seamlessly merge to create her life, work, and career. She is a Zambian-based trained communication and PR specialist with an ability to string words together in the art of creative direction and storytelling.
Her hobbies include writing, traveling, thrilling adventure, crafting, and music.