International Day of the Girl Child

October 11th marked the International Day of the Girl Child, an internationally recognized day designated by the United Nations to promote the rights of girls and to bring awareness to the unique challenges they face around the world. Globally, girls encounter many constraints that limit their ability to access education, to live a life free from violence, to delay marriage and pregnancy until adulthood, and to be involved in making important decisions that affect their lives.

To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child and the work that the USAID ASSIST Project does to improve the lives of girls living in poverty everyday, we produced a blog series which highlights our gender-responsive approach, activities, and outcomes in identifying and addressing the specific needs of girls in our Vulnerable Children and Families (VCF) program using an improvement approach.

ASSIST Improvement Advisor in Tanzania Delphina Ntangeki highlights how in Tanzania, the USAID ASSIST Project is addressing challenges that limit girls' access to education in the Bagamoyo District. Delphina shares the story of a girl named Miriam who received support from the USAID ASSIST Project and describes her ambition to get an education and her journey through that process. She shares a moving and important quote from a Most Vulnerable Children Committee (MVCC) member.  "Most parents think that boys are more important than girls. We have come across many events where parents prefer a boy child to continue their education than they do for girls. For example when a girl passes exams to go to secondary school, the parents refuse to pay for their school fees, but when the boy passes, they become happy and are ready to pay any amount of money. When it comes to the side of a girl child, parents spend more time planning how much to charge for the bride price but they don’t care about the girl’s education."

Elizabeth Silva, Improvement Specialist for Gender and Knowledge Management, highlights ASSIST's gender-responsive improvement approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable girls and successes tackling the biggest issues facing girls, including the prevelance of child marriage, which is a precursor for both education and health outcomes. Globally, approximately one third of girls are married before they turn 18. Girls who marry before adulthood are more likely to be taken out of school, experience violence, and become pregnant before they reach adulthood.  Early marriage also puts them at greater risk of HIV. The blog shares a specific example from ASSIST's work in Kenya to support local communities to create a girls’ mentorship program and educate students, parents, teachers, community members and provincial administrators on the rights and needs of children, including the importance of educating girls.

ASSIST Chief of Party in Malawi, Tiwonge Moyo, writes about the Malawi team's work to identify and respond to the specific needs of vulnerable girls in the Vulnerable Children and Families (VCF) program in Malawi. The team idenfied that girls are less likely to be in school and are less likely to pass exams in the communities in which they work, and the team has tested changes to overcome the issues leading to poorer outcome among girls, including working in collaboration with Community Victim Support Units to prevent child marriages among girls in the communities, supporting the nullification of child marriages among young girls and encouraging these girls and their parents to continue their education when possible, supporting female role models in the communities to conduct talks within primary schools to encourage girls to continue their education, and forming mothers’ groups to follow up on girls and boys in communities to ensure they attend school regularly.

To learn more about the International Day of the Girl Child and international events held to coincide with the holiday, visit the Coalition for Adolescent Girls' Website.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 00:00
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