I am sure you were as surprised as I was when you woke up this morning to find that today is the ‘International Day of the Girl’. I wondered where I have all this while because I have never heard of this special occasion. We have Mark Zuckerberg to thank for creating the awareness. A little research revealed it is a day to create awareness on Gender Inequality. Gender Inequality… Sigh! That is a real battle, isn’t it?
As I saw boys and girls (men and women; ladies and gentlemen) apply the awareness creating filters to their profile pictures on Facebook, I paused and asked myself a question. Is it worth it? Is there the need to set this day aside? Should we even create this awareness? Is this the right way to go about it? Do we, those whose rights are being fought for, for deserve it?
I quick search on the internet revealed, according to Wikipedia, that the International Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the United Nations. The observation was started five years ago on October 11, 2012. The initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide. The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular. A delegation of women and girls made presentations in support of the initiative at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting October 11, 2012, as the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child.
After my research, some of my questions were answered. I realized that the UN has good intentions for girls around the world. Females all over the world have, in one way or the other, had their rights violated. Therefore, the initiative to create awareness is an honorable one and I commend them. We are all human and hence, we deserve equal treatment like the men folk.
Has the UN achieved what it envisioned? I am not so sure about that. Change is a gradual process and hence it would take time for us to see major strides of improvement.
However, I am skeptical about us ever seeing the change. I am afraid to break it to you this way, girlfriends, but it looks like we have a long way to go to achieve the equality we hope to see. I tell you why.
Today, it is fanciful to change our profile pictures, to share quotes and take pictures in the observation of the day. After that, what? This is the question we need to ponder over today as we observe such an important occasion. Creating awareness is not good enough. We need to act on the awareness. This is how we create the change we are talking about.
It is even sad to note that while we go about changing filters and display pictures today, some of us are still battling gender inequality at work or at home. Yet, we shall change the profile picture and do nothing about the situation. In fact, many of the girls who have changed their profile pictures on Facebook have not bothered to check the true meaning of the cause we claim to be supporting. We cannot win the battle this way.
Girlfriends, I am not sorry if I sound harsh because at some point we need to tell ourselves the hard truth. This is what girlfriends do. We, those for whom this day is set aside; the people for whom the fight is being fought are resisting the change. My friends, when we talk about inequality, if we look closely, we will find that we are our own nemesis. We might not have started it, but we definitely are very responsible for where we are right now. And at the pace at which we are going, we are sure to plunge ourselves into even greater inequalities. Many of us are yet to accept that there is a problem. We are yet to realize we are being oppressed. We are yet to realize change is necessary. We still live in ignorance. We still have archaic mindsets.
I am sure I sound like a pessimist. Do not get me wrong at all. I support this march towards equality. Yes, I do.101%. What I cannot stomach is the cynicism that some of us, girls, exhibit. Some of us just cannot assimilate the possibility of rubbing shoulders with the males. We just do not believe the possibility of breaking through that glass roof that has hindered many from reaching that peak they have always dreamt of. We are suffering from a self-inflicted disease. We have oppressed our own selves. For so long, freedom has eluded us.
We are our own enemies and we are enemies of ourselves. Sometimes, we fight more against one another than we fight against our oppressors. Should a lady decide to contest for a position, even in a population of the majority being women, she loses to a male. No matter her qualifications, abilities, talents, and charisma. So far as she was born a female, she is disqualified and incompetent. And you wonder why the sexists have upped their games. Envy is real, you know. We are envious of our fellow female finding a leeway. We are envious because our colleague ladies attempt to crawl out of the mud.
We fail to see the real picture. When a woman succeeds, it is not only for herself. She is doing it for the others who have not yet gathered the courage to make the move in the right direction. Until we learn to appreciate our own; until we accept our fellow women; until we accept who we are, we would forever be taken for granted. We would always be known as the inferior goods.
As we observe this day, let us go beyond creating awareness on social media. It is time for us to come together and educate ourselves on the possibility of the fact that we too can soar. Until we tackle the psychological stagnancy, we would not make any progress. We all are trying to build a better future for ourselves and the unborn generation but if the foundation is weak, it will come tumbling down, crushing and grinding every single builder to a pulp. This is the time to open our eyes to the possibilities of life. It is time to pull ourselves out of the dark into the light of equity among all humans.
Let’s get rid of the “use what you have to get what you want” tactics of achieving things. If there is anything to use, it is our sexual appeals which are even defined by men. Rather, it is our intellectual appeals. If there is anything to use, it is the strength in our numbers. If there is anything to use, it is the solidarity among us, the genuineness of our love and support for one another. If there is anything to use, it is the celebration of all the women who are trailblazers; women who have shown the way for us to follow.
Girlfriends, let us go beyond the social media awareness. Today is a day of reflection. It is a day to think and pray; after these, do. We must come to points of resolution and build convictions strong enough to make us work hard to see the desired change. If we do not put our house in order, all the efforts others are putting in for our cause will come to naught. It begins with us and it begins with our minds.
Here is my personal resolve:
I, Delali Rhoda Agbenyo, do pledge that from today, I change my mentality. I change the picture I paint. I change the words I say about myself. I change the image I see when I behold the mirror. I am a woman; a woman of substance. I am a woman who wins no matter what. I am a woman who sees the good in my fellow women. I will no longer be a slave to self-oppression. I will respect myself so others will respect me. I will improve my skill so I am not labeled a disgrace to womanhood. I promise not to do it only for myself. I will do this for all women. I will do this for the entire human race. So help me God.
Let us raise the flag of women. Let us create awareness. More importantly, let us work hard to achieve equality for all.
The writer, Able Delalie, is a student at Central University. Share the post if you were blessed to read it. Leave a comment if you want to encourage Able to continue writing great pieces like this