The world celebrates two days in October to promote awareness against the bias and discrimination experienced by girls and women in many parts of the world. It is rather more appalling and rampant in the developing world and in regressive religious countries and cultures. The protests presently seen across Iran and Afghanistan are a stark reminder of this phenomenon. The ordeals and sufferings of the rural women in Pakistan similarly became a lot more apparent as the heart-rending havocs of the rains and floods were flashed around the world. Being a girl child is evidently a prelude to being a woman and the care, concern and equality of education and training imparted to her inherently determine the persona and competence of the woman evolved.
A call to stimulate the struggle for changing the course of girls’ lives by transforming their education, interestingly was also the theme of this year’s Girl Child Day. It has been observed since 2012 and is meant to further the goals of equality, dignity and development for women all over world. The day, each year, is also marked by a manifest theme to emphasise some of the most crucial and pathetic forms of discrimination and galvanise the most concerted and effective efforts for their elimination. ‘Ending child marriage’ for instance, was adopted for 2012, ‘innovating for girls’ education’ for 2013, ‘empowering adolescent girls’ for 2014 and ‘ending the cycle of violence against them’ in 2015.
The day to end poverty, violence and discrimination in inheritance, ownership of land, property and the arduous rigour and hardships endured by the rural women similarly is also observed each year on October 15. Its theme this year highlighted women’s role in cultivation, making and managing food as well as the problems and the crisis of living confronted by them. Proper education is most paramount to garner their talent, skills, potential and the efflorescence of their persona to live their lives and serve their families and societies.
These annual themes, viewed in their real perspectives, actually serve as the strands of a broader strategy strung to accomplish the UNO vision 2030 for women, culminating into their equality and realisation of the fundamental rights to groom and garner their full potential, pursue the profession of their choice, live without any patriarchic, misogynic and kindred cultural constraints, encumbrances and stigmas entailed by them. The bias and discrimination against them have been unfortunately congealed ever since the civilisations moved from their prime hunting gathering phases to cultivation, business, industrial, steel, polymer and space age stages.
Women in the pristine hunting gathering phases of the human societies actually reigned and managed the villages, settlements as the able-bodied men mostly had to be away fending for fruit, meat and other edibles for consumption and storage during the cold and rainy seasons. But their prominence slipped as the settlements moved to cultivation and agriculture practices that began to produce sufficient food and provisions for a season. Their contribution to cultivation and cattle management was still quite critical yet the men were now mostly free and around after the sowing and harvesting seasons to lead the supervision and management aspects.
The advent of colonisation, industrialisation and prolonged wars in Europe once again drove more manpower to the battle fronts and aggravated the need for more woman workers in the factories, business, health and entertainment sectors. These changes also enhanced women’s economic, clout, concern for their rights and equality, need for their further education, skill enrichment and economic independence. However, women in the developing world that have not yet experienced the catalytic thrust of industrialisation, development and the ensuing impacts on their life and culture, and have evidently also not attained that level of economic competence and confidence.
Education, however, can still transform their lives as properly educated girls are far less likely to be coerced into early marriages and hence can live healthier and command more confidence and productive lives. They earn higher incomes, participate and influence the decisions that most affect them, and carve better futures for themselves and their families. Girls’ education also strengthens economies and reduces inequality. Improving education also means providing and revamping the standards of instructions, atmosphere and facilities in their institutions. However, about a fourth of the girls on globe, aged 15-19, are not in education compared to just about a tenth of the boys. Even in Pakistan about a third of the primary school age girls are out of school compared to about a fifth of the boys of the same age. Their plight is even more abysmal in the rural and tribal belts as in Baluchistan, leaving about four out of every five girls as compared to about one out of every two boys.
The primitive perception about male being the bread winner is presently repudiated by the fact that the economic progress, GDP and quality of life in various countries have almost a direct correlation to the number and quality of their women engaged in their progress. Proper strategies to invest more in woman education, training in emerging innovative techs, better health, nutrition sports and to wipe out the violence against them thus have to be expedited. Efforts to empower the female entrepreneur, the widows and bread winners similarly also have to be implemented to end their disparity, discrimination and bias against them.