Last week, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child.
Several events and activities meant to empower girls were lined up across the country to commemorate the day.
One group, that of girls selected from the Junior Parliament Zimbabwe took over roles as leaders in United Nations (UN) and its other six agencies including United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN WOMEN and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in commemoration of the day.
The girls takeover campaign was staged under the localised theme “#ZimGirlsTakeover” to inspire girls as agents of change who are capable of becoming leaders.
Addressing the participants, the UN Resident coordinator to Zimbabwe for the day, Hon Chantel Mawunidza, who is also the Minister of State in Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe, noted that developmental agenda cannot be achieved if women and girls do not contribute and are not given platforms to talk.
Senator of the Junior Parliament Hon Vimbai Jukwa who took up the position as the head International Labour Organisation (ILO) urged women and girls to take up leadership roles to achieve gender equality in all spheres of decision making.
“I encourage women and girls to take up leadership roles to achieve gender parity in all spheres of decision making, including politics, economics, social and public life,” she said.
The young girls said it was their greatest experience taking up UN leadership roles in the country, and they hope to empower other girls who couldn’t have this opportunity.
The #ZimGirlsTakeover campaign is commendable as it shows commitment by the UN in improving the lives of girls by enabling them to take up the leadership roles.
Girls’ participation is a crucial factor in economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.
Investing in leadership skills of young girls is very important, and we should not ignore the fact that girls have equal rights as boys to lead.
Developing the leadership of girls does not only help them secure better livelihoods, but can also create a generation that is able to deliver a better future in the coming years.
Giving young girls a way to lead gives them confidence and puts young women at a level where they can empower others.
Let us all continue to support girls, giving them platforms to speak up for themselves, to make decisions about their own lives and take the positions of power.
The UN #ZimGirlsTakeover showed what the leadership potential of girls and young women.
In the coming years, more organisations should emulate what the UN has been doing.
This in turn can provide more opportunities for girls, ensuring their voices are heard.
As a result, they can represent other girls in their communities and inspire them.
There is also need to include young girls in every initiative that is done for them because no successful plans or decisions can be made for them without their voices.
Young girls’ voices must be heard if they are going to contribute fully to the community.
They should be taught to express themselves clearly so that they can claim more active roles in their societies.
International day of the Girl Child is an international observance day which is commemorated on the 11th of October annually.
The observation increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls world-wide.