October 11 is marked as the International Day of the Girl Child by the United Nations. The day emphasises to increase awareness of issues faced by girls around the world. In many cases, global development plans do not include girls. More than 62 million girls around the world have no access to education and in cases other fundamental rights. On average, girls aged between 5 to 14 spend more than 160 million hours more on household activities compared to boys of the same age range. Additionally, a considerable number of girls around the world suffer from sexual violence and do not get proper justice.
This year's theme of International Day of the Girl Child was "With Her: A Skilled GirlForce." Keeping this theme in mind, the British Council aimed to work alongside all girls to expand existing learning opportunities, chart new pathways and call on the local community to rethink how to prepare them for a successful transition into the work force. In order to bring about that transition, it is first essential to raise awareness at home. The British Council organised an interactive session titled "A Skilled GirlForce" to commemorate the day.
The day was celebrated with a series of interactive sessions for both parents and their daughters, and around 45 parents and children participated in it. The evening began with a story-telling session by Fatima Chowdhury, Teacher, British Council Teaching Centre. She performed a story for the attending children, titled “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.
The second segment of the evening was a discussion session hosted by Sumi Akter, a peer-leader mentor, EDGE Project. She shared her real-life experiences of struggles that she faced growing up. The session served inspirational for the young audiences, as well as for their parents and guardians.
The third and final segment of the evening was hosted by Sharowat Shamin, Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Dhaka. Bullying and sexual harassment have been a prime issue for the girl child in recent times, and Ms Sharowat’s discussion session was focused on ways of how to fight it back. Social issues like bullying and sexual harassment can only be effectively fought back with proper awareness of it. The segment consisted insights on the laws and actions regarding the problem and how to tackle them. The parents along with their daughters participated in question and answering sessions which helped them to clear and broaden up their ideas and know more about the girl child right.
The girls of the 21st century have begun to transcend beyond certain boundaries, and they can break free of social taboos to reach their goals. The evening was arranged to inspire the girls and their parents to realise the future potentials of the skilled girl-force.
“Having a girl child is not a burden, it never was. It has always been a false taboo that we lived in," quoted by a parent. "But it’s high time to say goodbye to this social curse.”