Africa has been billed a continent of opportunities. A land bestowed with natural resources and teeming with a young population driving innovation and growth. Yet it remains a continent where the drivers of its economic, social and cultural growth still remains unsung. As the World marks the International Women’s Day, it is worth pausing and reflecting on the journey of the African girl child and women, and the space of this constituency in the global geopolitics.
While governments across the continent have committed resources and nations enacted legislation to protect and spearhead the sacrosanct rights of the girl child, the African girl has to still surmount numerous odds.
From the kidnapping of Chibok girls by Nigeria Islamists Boko Haram, to forced marriages of underage girls and female genital mutilation in majority of the countries, it is a tough call being a girl in Africa.
Yet Africa continue to celebrate women of outstanding stature, those who have broken the ceiling and captured the world attention for their brazen and selfless acts. From coming up with groundbreaking innovation, offering refuge to children of war and leading some of the largest institutions in the continent, the African women deserves Vulcan salute because in most cases the playing field has not been levelled to their advantage.
It is worth celebrating African queens like Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Environmentalist and Nobel peace prize laureate the Late Wangari Maathai, Malawi Chief Theresa Inkosi Kachindamoto working to end early girl marriages, Morocco’s Aicha Ech Channa who houses neglected single mothers and Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya a champion for girls‘ education and an avid campaigner against female genital mutilation in Kenya among other stars. It is their courage and missionary zeal that is inspiring a new set of modern day female leaders who are shaping the course of the continent.
An African adage goes, “educating a woman is educating a whole world,” a statement that has passed the litmus test if the number of African girls making global headlines for phenomenal activities is anything to go by.
Africa owes its girl child a fair world, free from discrimination, violence and access to education if it is to rise and compete in the global arena. Happy International Women’s Day to all daughters of Africa and all corners of the earth. The world celebrates you.