Nakuru First Lady calls for greater investment for the girl child
As the world marked the International Day of the Girl Child on the 11th of October, talk about empowerment of girl child dominated the celebrations across the country.
With challenges facing the girl child being highlighted, both the Government, human rights’ groups, schools, parents, churches and other stakeholders were challenged to be part of the process of empowering the girl child as the only way of bringing to an end the victimization and marginalization of the girl child in the society.
Nakuru County First Lady Elizabeth Kinyanjui said empowerment and investment in the girl child is a critical component for economic growth of the country and an important ingredient for the achievement of the country’s vision 203
She noted that empowering the girl child is a sure way of breaking the cycle of inequalities that have bedevilled the girl child over the years.
Speaking during the celebrations held at Nakuru’s Nyayo Gardens, Kinyanjui called on all sectors of the community to reflect on their role in empowering the girl child and be part of overcoming the obstacles that have limited and prevented the girl child from realizing their dreams and reaching their potential. She said that the girl child has great power that should be unlocked. “When the society empowers the girl child she will rise to become an empowered woman who will in turn give birth to an empowered nation,” said Kinyanjui.
The County First Lady regretted the rising cases of abuse against the girl child citing recent a case in Murang’a where a 13 year old girl who was in police custody was sexually assaulted by a police officer who was supposed to be guarding her. She also recalled a case in Nakuru where a nine-year-old girl was abducted and assaulted before her stomach was ripped open.
“Every day we read in the newspapers stories of girls undergoing some sort of violence just because they are girls,” said Kinyanjui. She noted: “Violence against girls is never ending and these cases continue to occur even when we celebrate today.”
She said failure to empower the girl child in the community exposes her to numerous injustices and violence such as being denied right to quality education, nutrition and medical care as well as leaving her exposed to early marriages and teenage pregnancies. “These are things that make them enter adulthood as disadvantaged partners both socially and economically.”
Kinyanjui reiterated the girl child’s empowerment is key to achieving gender equality in the country.
Nakuru County Director of Education Millicent Oyugi said access to information is critical in the process of empowering the girl child. She noted: “The community should ensure that the girl child gets the right information to enable them make right and informed decisions.”
Oyugi also noted that lack of information has led many adolescent girls to make wrong decisions which have ruined their lives. She decried the lack and scarcity of information relating to sexuality among teenage and adolescent girls in the country.
However, Oyugi called on young and adolescent girls to take charge of their sexuality and avoid messing their future lives based on the sexual decisions they make during their teenage years. She reiterated: “Empowering the girl child through education is the only sure way of achieving equal representation for the girl child and the Kenyan woman.”
At the same time, Oyugi called on the girls to come out and speak against any form of violence perpetrated against them by the society. She challenged: “Policy makers should ensure the country has enough policies to cushion the girl child against all forms of manipulation, discrimination and violence meted against them by the society.”
During the celebrations, 23-year-old Marian Wairimu narrated how her own parents turned against her during her adolescent years.
‘’My parents refused to pay my school fees and told me to go find something I could do. I later found a man who loved me but things turned sour after the man impregnated me and denied responsibility and this caused my parents to eject me from their home,” said Wairimu.
Maria Ikmat, a survivor of violence said how the manager of a children’s home she was living in stopped paying her school fees after she rejected his sexual advances.
She was tempted to start stealing school items from her schoolmates for survival something which led to her expulsion from school. She would later find solace in street life where she met her current husband.