Girls Count Competition: Rokhaya Ngom – “Each girl counts”

Rokhaya Ngom – Senegal
“Each Girl Counts,” initiated by our leaders including all stakeholders

How can we make a girl to believe in herself after she has been mutilated, to show her that she counts in her society? How can we assert to another, to whom her childhood has been stolen, who was married to a man who could be her father, that she has a say in the functioning of her community? Many young girls are left to their own devices in Africa. Anxiety punctuates their daily lives. To restore their confidence in themselves, to re-teach them their prerogatives stolen by our societies and traditions, at this point, only NGOS and some activists are working in that way.

Our governments signed and ratified so many conventions about girls and women’s rights. Then, in most of our countries, a legal framework to protect them and their rights already exists. Still, I find it deplorable that it is such a pain to apply it and make States responsible of this application. Everytime NGOs ask states to engage advocacy campaigns. Then, today, I would like all countries of Africa’s continent to launch an advocacy called “Each Girl Counts”, initiated by our leaders. They will have to gather together all stakeholders (NGOs, religious leaders, family, etc.) around different events to sensitize the communities. What would be significant with this idea of advocacy is to hold several events on the same day in all states.

Around this plea, discussion panels will be organized, especially on child marriage and female genital mutilation with religious guides, leaders, families, NGOs, etc. If we want to permit girls to know their rights and make them want to raise mountains the best way is to go directly to them to motive them.

It would be possible to organize tours especially in rural areas, gather those girls to give them coaching sessions and capacity building with coaches and emblematic figures of female entrepreneurship. In response to those trainings, each village and girls will be asked to lead a project being able to solve a problem in their community. This advocacy project will end with a regional pitch contest. Each country will be represented by the group of girls who will win the national competition.

Firstly, the objective of « Each Girl Counts » is to lead to a change of mentality among each layer of the population, so that, we will be able to erase those social defects that kill social life of our girls. Then, the aim is to provide them several tools that will help them to create business, being autonomous and being able to seek solutions adapted to their problematics. It will also be an opportunity to show the international community a positive image of a continent that stands up together to say NO to the implicit exclusion of girls from society.

If I’m selected, I’ll tell our leaders in Ethiopia that it’s time to make girls’ education a priority. Beyond the established budgets and funds, they will have to become ground workers and involve the entire civil society to make real the implementation of girls’ rights laws.

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