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Saturday, October 26, 2013

International Day of the Girl Child Celebration.

It’s been a while since “Sisterhood” was actively doing mentorship in Schools within Nairobi and its environs. This is majorly because your truly was back in class from May- October of this year and it proved quite a challenge balancing school work, full time employment and Sisterhood. Nonetheless I was still scribbling down thoughts and ideas especially to help build teenage girls self esteem and help them gain meaningful life skills. In all the deadlines and assignments, Sisterhood committed to celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child in style.

The International day of the Girl Child is an annual celebration marked on the 11th October. The day is an international observance day as declared by the United Nations in the year 2012.The observation supports more opportunity for girls, and increases awareness of inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence and unfree child marriage and access to education among others.

Since the day is for the girl child, Sisterhood came up with an activity which is spearheaded by the girls and what better way to do so than to hold a debate intundem with this year’s theme which was 'Innovating for Girl's Education.' Sisterhood approached 4 schools within Nairobi namely; Ngara Girls High School, Arya Girls High School both in Nairobi’s Ngara area and Bahati Soweto and Bahati Mukuru both CC’s located in Nairobi’s informal settlement of Embakasi area. Each school was tasked to present 3 debaters who would present on innovative ways to ensure that more girls are able to access education not only in Kenya but within Africa and beyond. Each team (school) was also tasked to present on Manila paper the girls dreams, hopes and aspirations. The girls were encouraged to draw, paste pictures and write what they envision for themselves with no barriers in place. I believe that sometimes we are more visual and to assist those moments where you cannot be best able to articulate yourself visual diagrams always seem to go a long way. The fine arts which each school presented were the background of the debater’s podium.

It was very refreshing to hear the innovative solutions the girls came up with. Most of them identified that the current solutions are not working and hence it is obvious that newer solution must be incorporated to address the same. The girls called for reforms in the heavy taxes levied on sanitary towels which hinder many girls from being able to attend school every month during their menses for lack of adequate sanitary towels. It was also noted that campaigns that only provide sanitary towels are not effective especially in the Northern parts of the country where girls also lack proper inner wear. Strategies such as ‘panties for a purposes’ was called for. The girls also suggested that more mentorship programmes are needed to enable the girls to have good support structures and pillars of hope.

The debate generated a plenary discussion where all present participants to the event contributed towards brain storming on sustainable solutions to address the challenges faced by the girl child in Kenya. The judges who are all very passionate about gender development and who also work in the sector proved instrumental in steering the discussion.

As with all competition there must be a winner. Sisterhood is committed to inspire, support and encourage young teenagers and as such we found it prudent to have gifts of participation for all 12 debaters. Each contestant was presented with a certificate of participation, and a journal from the United religions Initiative and the Sema Kenya BBC program also presented t-shirts and wrist bands to the girls.

The first three debaters each got Bata Shoe School Vouchers donated by the United religions Initiative. The judges also made special mention to one of the debaters who came up with the most innovative solutions and was also presented with a school bag from URI. The BBC- Sema Kenya program also donated wrist bands to all 54 participants to the event.

All 54 participants were welcomed to refreshments after the event which took 2 hours. The event was held at the host school Ngara Girls in Nairobi from 2:00-4:00 pm on the 18th October 2013.

Sisterhood sincerely thanks all the people who made this day a great success and for making the girls matter!!


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