2021-10-10 GENERAL HOUSE

11 October: International Day of the Girl Child

In many parts of the world, girls are still struggling with gender-biased practices. In rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, they wake up early, clean the house, cook food, and follow their parents to the farm or stay at home and look after their younger siblings instead of attending school. Their parents believe that chores are sufficient for them to learn how to keep a family. The few of them who enroll in primary schools drop out to get married and become mothers. This situation robs them of their girlhood and destroy their chances of progressing in education.

The plight of girls caught the attention of the world in 1995 during the World Conference on Women in Beijing. Consequently, on December 19, 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared October 11 the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize girls’ rights and the challenges they face around the world. Since 2012, October 11 has been marked to denounce gender-based discrimination against girls and to promote their empowerment.

Marists of Champagnat

As advocates of Child Rights, we, Marist, join other religious congregations and civil society organizations to promote girls’ rights because we believe that they have the right to enjoy their physical and mental health. Champagnat’s charity towards poor children is our source of inspiration. Champagnat always insisted that ‘equality ought to be the hallmark of the brothers’ schools and characterize all aspects of the children’s education. In the footsteps of Champagnat, we are invited to see in the girls and boys only what faith reveals and take into consideration only their conduct, love them and treat them all as our children.

Girls are not immune to the world’s problems. They are also torn apart during protracted conflicts, humanitarian crises and population movements but their biggest challenge in the developing countries is unequal opportunities to enjoy their education right. Concerned about their plight and hoping that the Beijing Conference would draw attention to it, Pope John Paul II, in his letter of May 26, 1995 to Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, the Secretary General of the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nations, told her that the Church has always demonstrated in action and in word, the importance of educating the girl–child, and providing her with health care, particularly where she may not otherwise have had these benefits.

Pope John Paul II insisted inter alia that as children continue to face crises that threaten their long–term development and their very life, it is imperative that the security afforded by responsible parents within the context of the family be re-established and reaffirmed because children, particularly girls, need the positive environment of a stable family life that ensures their development to human maturity. Given that today, there is no ‘standard’ family form, the Pope John Paul II urged Mrs. Gertrude Mongella to encourage Women’s Conference, institutions and organizations around the world to give special attention to the girl child.


Brother Francis Lukong – Secretariat of Solidarity


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