Former Malawi President Dr. Joyce Banda

By Arnold Mnelemba

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Former Malawi President Dr. Joyce Banda has called upon governments and all relevant stakeholders to step up efforts in a quest to see a girl child back to school after the devastating effects of Covid-19.

Dr. Banda was speaking at a virtual conversation organised by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO in commemoration of the International Day of the girl child.

On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

The former Malawi leader urged Non-Governmental Organizations, women networks, and the civil society to work with governments to ensure that girls go back to school after Covid 19.

She has at the meantime asked African governments to abolish harmful tradition practices that hurt the girl child and stand in the way of her education.

“Traditional leaders should take the lead in ensuring that their communities are adhering to laws against discrimination of the girl child’s access to education,” said.

Dr. Banda took the opportunity to ask the international and donor community to work on economic recovery program that will benefit all the people including the girl child.

“In six months, the world has gone through so much pain and suffering due to destroyed economies, increase in poverty and death than at any time in recent history as a result of the Covid-119 Pandemic.

“As we commemorate the day of the girl child, we need to recognize that in all this, a girl child has been the most affected. Statistics show that 11 million girls affected and others infected will not be able to go back to school post Covid-19,” said Banda.

Adding, “The international organisation and Aid Agencies should support developing countries to implement the recovery programs including programs that have a direct bearing on a girl child.

“Secondly and most importantly. It has been announced that the 2% richest people have become richer during the pandemic, I am making an appeal that they should invest their money in contributing towards a fund that UNESCO should administer to ensure that organisations that provide.”

She bemoaned the devastating effects of Covid 19 calling for concerted efforts in the healing process.

“In the last seven months we have seen an increase in child marriages, teen marriages, an increase in poverty and an increase in gender-based violence. In one district of Mangochi in Malawi, 15,000 girls have gotten married, some have fallen pregnant at a very tender age. Let us join hands in the healing process.”

She commended Malawi government for allowing girls who have become pregnant to return to school after giving birth.

“Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women.

“If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, political leaders and mothers,” says JB

An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO, and the support of young girls, their training and their full ability to make their voices and ideas heard are drivers for sustainable development and peace.

In too many cases across the globe, teenage girls drop out of school, due to forced marriages or child labour. UNESCO is committed to celebrating this day to ensure that all girls have access to quality education and a dignified life.

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