Empowering the Girl Child at schools is a necessary practice

The macho culture is so ingrained in our culture that we often deepen cultural or structural practices that promote gender inequalities without us realizing it. Now that the United Nations marks 11 October as the “International Day of the Girl Child”, we will hopefully see more sustainable awareness campaigns against violence against girls especially at schools and at community level.

This week I attended two school events where the girl child was empowered.

Grade 11 girls host their Speakers’ event at Ocean View High School
All the Grade 11 Girls who participated in the Speakers' Circle.  In front row: Shireen Klein ( Deputy principal), Keith Klein ( Principal), Virginia Truter ( Deputy Principal). At the back: educator and parent posing with the girls.

 At Ocean View High school, eleven Grade 11 girls participated in a Speakers’ Circle where they presented talks on varied topics such as the critical need for honesty, quality education to help eradicate poverty and the role of technology in our world – powerful stuff! All the speakers were confident, assertive and delivered convincing arguments to support their cause. One of the girls, Hope, invited her mother to attend the function. You could see the joy on the principal’s face as he listened to these powerful , young women.

Special school awards for the Girl child at Square Hill Primary School
A few of the Square Hill Girls who were affirmed at the school's annual prize giving. Here the learners have just affirmed each of their teachers with a yellow rose for their investment in the learners.

Then, at Square Hill Primary school, the girl child’s profile is actively raised. Besides ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both genders at the school, the school also has a dedicated bursary for the most promising girl leader in Grade 7. The deserving recipient is usually one of the girls who excels in all spheres despite often depressing home  and social circumstances. 

This year’s event was even more poignant because the recipient of this award was also awarded an additional R1,000 by the family of an autistic young man who turned 21 on the night of the prizegiving.

These are the kinds of practices that will help us to eradicate the inequalities between the sexes. These are the small steps we need to build into our school cultures to help transform our world where vulnerable groups like the Girl child can be treated equally and with dignity.

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