Wednesday, Oct. 11, marked the International Day of The Girl Child, and many people across social media made posts to mark the day. Many issues were discussed, and one of the most prominent ones was the fact that sexism, illiteracy, and poverty are some of the factors that affect girls negatively and limit their potentials as members of the society.

In the past, I have read articles and done research on some of the many obstacles facing girls across the world, and some of the issues I found included child marriages, sex trafficking, and discrimination because females are viewed as the weaker sex. In many parts of the world, female children are married off to much older men, some even old enough to be their fathers. This might happen because the family has a debt to pay and therefore are using their daughter as a form of payment, or simply because they are very poor and need the money they will get from her bride price. Before I continue, I want to clarify the issue of “bride price.” I have heard many people say that bride price is a form of payment for a woman, but it’s actually not. It is more of a form of appreciation to a bride’s family. So, when a poor family meets a man who promises to pay a huge sum of money to marry their daughter, most of them agree to this even without the girl’s consent because they might feel that’s the best choice for the family. However, no one stops to think of this little girl who is being forced to be a woman due to the decisions of her somewhat greedy and desperate parents.

According to The AJ+ News Channel, about 26 states in the US have no limit on legal marriage age. According to UNICEF, over 130 million girls are out of school. This number will probably increase if something is not done. Now, I want you to imagine how many engineers, doctors, teachers, artists, and even presidents the next generation might miss just because these girls never got an education.

In various societies across the world, girls and women are often viewed to be weak: this is a perception that needs to go away. Even in the recent US elections the issue of sexism could be seen, and across social media platforms I saw people who talked down on Hillary Clinton just because she was a woman. Many people assumed she would not be tough enough or strong enough to rule a country. I think the world should take a page out of Rwanda’s book. Rwandan parliament is made up of 64 percent women, and this is a much higher percentage than many so-called “developed” countries. These women helped rebuild Rwanda after its bloody genocide 20 years ago. If we keep saying “the future is female,” then we need to make sure that the future is indeed an educated, confident, and strong female. We need to stop judging girls based on their physical features. We need to stop telling them what they cannot achieve because of their gender. e need to stop restricting their dreams because we think that they can’t handle it.

Also, as females we need to do better to empower ourselves. Like they say, if you want something done well, you need to do it yourself. Compliment a young girl as often as possible and remind her that her dreams are valid and remind her that the only thing that can limit her is herself. Young girls need to be supported every single day–not just one day a year.

Ehi Agbashi

Ehi Agbashi is a senior double-majoring in Biology and Psychology. During her free time, she travels and takes lots of photos and also blogs.

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