Speech by Kudzai Taranhike the Junior Mayoress of the Bulawayo Junior City Council for the Day of the Girl
“The principle of ‘All children, All rights‘ is still much too far to be a reality”, these words were said by the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in the year 2000 and yet this has still proven to be true. A pleasant day to you all, I am the Junior Mayoress of the City of Bulawayo Kudzai Taranhike. It is an honor to be standing in your presence as it is a day declared to celebrate the existence of the girl child.
Ladies and gentlemen, today the world has chosen to focus on girls like me and I’m happy that we’ve come together to commemorate this very important day. I’m however pained by the numerous challenges that we as girls face each and every day of our lives. More than 110 million children women worldwide are currently not going to school, and surprisingly enough 60% of these are girls and my question is why? Even worse, research has shown that in some Sub-Saharan countries, adolescent girls have HIV infection rates of up to five times higher than adolescent boys. Ladies and gentlemen I would like to pose a question to you right now. Why is it that girls are facing such painful situations in their lives?
The key reason to girls facing all these problems is because of their vulnerability as compared to the opposite sex. We as girls are exposed to danger and various forms of abuse like child labor because we are unable to defend ourselves. This is something that I believe should come to an end.
I‘m amazed at the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies in our country. The rate of teenage pregnancies is at its highest peak as we speak. This, ladies and gentlemen is a major problem in our society because the girl suffers most. In most cases this results in her dropping out of school and being unable to achieve their dreams. This year’s theme is ‘Innovating for Girls’ Education’ and I’m sure you’re wondering how we’re going to do this. The answer is simple, we must unite as girls ourselves and make sure that we’re not taken advantage of.
Girls of our age are not exposed to enough resources to go to school and I strongly believe that we need to deploy mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas. We need to improve public and private transportation for girls to get to school. Corporate mentorship programs to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills should also be introduced.
As we focus on education, there is a stereotype that has said that science subjects are only for boys, but NO!, this is not true and that is why I believe that there should be provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational training programs.
In addition to this there has been a disturbing issue that’s affecting the girl child which is child marriages. This culture has crippled the girl child and we as girls say that this should stop now. That is why we want the revision of school curricular to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriages, sexual and reproductive health and female family roles.
According to the Millennium report of the United Nations, shortchanging girls is not only a matter of gender discrimination, it is bad economics and social policy. Experience has shown over and over again that the investment in girls’ education translates directly and quickly into better health care, declining fertility, poverty reduction and better overall economic performance.
In conclusion I would like to encourage girls, like myself, to be the light of the world and be girls who are content with who they are. Let us desist from the love of money and work hard towards building a brighter future for ourselves.
My final words to the girls out there are that let us work towards being educated ladies, who in the future will not depend on anyone else to earn a decent living. Let us depend on God, our destiny is in him.