Commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child
The Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) observed the International Day of the Girl Child with a call for investment in Girls’ Education, Empowerment and Girls-Friendly WASH in all High Schools.
A true meaning of the theme of International Day of the Girl Child- OUR TIME IS NOW, OUR RIGHT, OUR FUTURE, will mean to “Provide all girls the enabling environment and needed opportunities to achieve their dreams. Countless girls in our society can become more of former President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Madam Leymah Gbowee, International Woman of Courage Facia B. Harris and Seated Chief Justice of Liberia, Her Honor Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, and many other women in our global village” says Student Kebbeh David of the 6th-grade class at the Dixville Public School in Montserrado County.
Recounting the pivotal role girls can play in society, and an evolving world, Student David told the audience to consider Liberia as a simple case study. “We fought a senseless Civil war dating from December 24, 1989, during the war, it was women that fetched food for their families, women also were on their kneels interceding for Liberia and the world seeking peace, yet women and girls were the most vulnerable still now we are still the most vulnerable and underrepresented in all sectors”.
She challenged the Liberian government and key state actors to address the issues faced by girls and prioritize quality education for girls, health, and create an enabling and safe environment because girls’ lives matter as well as penalizing anyone violating and abusing girls.
Speaking directly to President George Weah who normally tag himself as Feminist-in-Chief she said “kindly ensure that our lives are protected at any time, we are tired of being raped, abused, harassed, and exploited, we are not safe until every girl is fully safe and protected.
Miss. David spoke at the opening at a one-day Girls Advocacy Workshop for
Action on Girls–Friendly WASH in Schools as part of the activities marking the observance of the International Day of the Girl Child organized by the Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI).
PAYOWI continues with the training under the “WASH for Equitable Education” campaign to support the Girls Advocacy Groups and the student Council Governments to monitor, follow up, and advocate for the full implementation of the WASH in School Facility-Level Improvement Plan at the Dixville Public School in Montserrado County.
She thanked PAYOWI for choosing the Dixville Public School to participate in the “Advocacy for Action on Girls – Friendly WASH in Schools Project” aimed at helping girls attend classes regularly during menstruation and provide access to quality WASH facilities – safe and healthy environment at school.
PAYOWI is currently working with ten high schools in Montserrado and Margibi Counties to create awareness on the need for improved access to girls-friendly WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities, to help ensure girls are comfortable especially during their menstruation.
Based on the National Guide to the Implementation of the Liberia WASH in Schools Program and the findings from PAYOWI WASH needs assessment in the ten schools, the organization is working with the school’s administration to help put in place healthy WASH measures by setting up clean toilet facilities. To make this happen, PAYOWI distributed hygiene products to include soap, cholera, detergents, and sanitary pads to the Dixville Public School Girls WASH Team, and same will be done with all the schools in the project.
It can be recalled that Paramount Young Women Initiative in May 2022, under the Advocacy for Action on Girl-friendly WASH in Schools Project, funded by the US Department of State, conducted a situational analysis on 30 schools in Margibi and Montserrado counties, Liberia; with the objective of assessing the state of water, sanitation, hygiene infrastructure, and menstrual health and hygiene facilities at the 30 schools across the two counties. The study also assessed measures taken as part of COVID-19 protocols and waste management practices.
The findings gathered varied across schools, underscoring a critical need for facility-level policy and practice to improve national WINS outcomes.
The Girls Advocacy workshop is intended to give enhance the advocacy skills of the students to engage their schools, PTA and national stakeholders on the need to improve WASH conditions in schools based on Liberia National WINS Policy and the WASH Three Star Approach.
Also speaking at the workshop, the Executive Coordinator of PAYOWI, Atty. Facia Harris told the students not to be silent about issues that affect them and threaten their livelihood, but rather engage in constructive engagement and advocacy to ensure their rights are respected at all times. She added that girls should continue to speak up consistently about the need for greater access to education for young people, especially girls to close the gender gap.
The courage and leadership shown by young girls across Liberia point to a potential that needs to be tapped. There are too many shining examples of unstoppable girls making a difference in their local communities, their dreams and aspirations must not be killed because girls can be powerful agents of change.
PAYOWI is a feminist-led non-profit organization with the quest to help create a safe environment where adolescent girls and young women develop their full potential through education, empowerment and advocacy, and can live freely without being hindered and be capable of making decisions that will be beneficial to them and their communities and society.
The International Day of the Girl Child is an international observance day declared by the United Nations; October 11, 2012, was the first Day of the Girl Child. The observation supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender.