Commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child

 

A section of girls of different ages who attended the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child held at the Isiolo police grounds, Isiolo County-Kenya, on 12th October 2020.

The Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Girl on the 12th of October 2020, at the Isiolo police grounds in Isiolo County, one of the 47 geographical units of devolved government under Kenya’s 2010 constitution, in the Eastern part of Kenya.

The event, organized by the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) in partnership with FECCLAHA and Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), brought together a total of 200 girls from Isiolo county-Kenya who benefited from information from various speakers who included religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim faith and members of the FECCLAHA Regional Faith Women Mediators’ Network (REFWOMEN) among others on their right to protection as girls. The girls present also received health kits which comprised of soaps, reusable sanitary towels, underwear, face masks amongst others.

Isiolo county assembly speaker Hon Hussein Halake Roba (centre)  hands over a health kit pack to one of the girls

Also present at the event were local administrative units; local chiefs, enforcement officers, County Department of children and Director of Education representatives, Isiolo county commissioner as well as Hon Hussein Halake Roba, speaker of Isiolo County Assembly, all who assured of their administrative support to protect the girl child.

This year’s theme “My voice, our equal future” aimed at urging the girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their demands to: Live free from gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices, and HIV and AIDS ; learn new skills towards the futures they choose  and lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change for a better, equal future for the girl.

Sixteen-year old, Zini Kiende in her poem “We will lift our voices” recited during the International Day of the Girl Child event called for the protection of the girl child since they were the future of the nation. She encouraged fellow girls to be strong as they pursue education which was free and open for them to enable them become who they wish to be. She condemned practices such as the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) gender discrimination and early marriages.

Zini Kiende gives a recitation of a poem entitled “We will lift our voices”

Speaking at the occasion, FECCLAHA Executive Director, Jeannette Uwizeye, noted that there was need to consider gender justice to enable both the girls and boys exploit their full potential. She also called for a joint approach and approach in addressing the challenges the girl child faces adding that the girl child was a special group that would later grow into mothers hence a strong girl equals a strong mother which results to a strong family foundation which makes a strong nation in the end.

She also expressed the need for involvement of the boys and men in addressing the plight of girls, noting that FECCLAHA, through its gender justice programme, remains committed in breaking the silence on Gender Based violence and advocating for the protection of women/girls.

 

FECCLAHA Executive Director, Jeannette Uwizeye speaks during the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child held at the Isiolo police grounds, Isiolo County-Kenya, on 12th October 2020.

In a joint statement on the girl child, religious leaders led by Isiolo Interfaith Network Chairman, Sheikh Ahmed Set and Isiolo Interfaith Network co-chair Bishop Stephen Kalunyu resolved to; work with all likeminded organizations and government stakeholders to fight against all harmful cultural practices that affect the girl e.g. early forced child marriages and FGM in the community and the country at large, resolved to fight child trafficking and to work together with both Christians and Muslims to mainstream issues of girl child protection.

The Interfaith leaders also appealed to the county government of Isiolo and the National government of Kenya to set aside some funds to sensitize religious leaders to carry out civic education on child protection.

  

Isiolo Interfaith Network co-chair Bishop Stephen Kalunyu (2nd left) reads out the religious leaders’ resolutions on the girl child.

The United Nations declared October 11 the International Day of the Girl Child with a view to support more opportunities for girls and increase awareness on gender inequality issues faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. The focus on the girl child seeks to address concerns affecting them such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and forced child marriage. Also known as the Day of the Girl and the International Day of the Girl, first observed on 11th October 2012, the day also reflects on the successful emergence of girls and young women as a distinct cohort in development policy, programming, campaigning and research.

 

Written/photos by:

David Omondi                 

Communication Assistant – FECCLAHA