Today 11 October is International Day of the Girl Child: a day which focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. UNESCO is committed to celebrating this day to ensure that all girls have access to quality education and a dignified life.
I met Tamara, 9 and Talandila, 12, at their school in Chikwawa, south Malawi. For all intense and purposes they are sisters. Talandila is the daughter of Alefa and Dyson. Tamara is adopted by Alefa and Dyson, her father – their son – and her mother have both died, making Tamara an orphan.
Of the 15.9 million Malawians, about 12 million live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Children account for over half of Malawi’s population and yet their rights and needs are often seen as marginal to development efforts. In Malawi one in three children do not start primary school despite it being free.
Girls’ education is a power for development. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer. Among children not attending school there are twice as many girls as boys, and among illiterate adults there are twice as many women as men.
Tamara and Talandila are part of a new spirit of togetherness in Africa where girls are now getting to go to school, a basic education that generates future progress. By empowering girls with education they are enabled to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead thereby supporting the progress of our entire society.
~ Story for Catholic Relief Services
Happy #DayOfTheGirl !
Canon EOS 5D mark III – focal length 28mm (Canon EF 1:2.8 24-105mm lens ) – f/6.3 – Shutter 1/125