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Adolescent Girls have the Potential to Change the World; Swaziland commemorates International Day of the Girl Child

27 October 2017

Swaziland joined the world in commemorating International Day of the Girl Child. The national theme was ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision 2022’ which call for the recognition of the adolescent girl and her challenges both in development and humanitarian contexts as Swaziland moves towards His Majesty’s Vision 2022.

The commemoration was held at Sibetsaphi High School in the Lubombo region, one of the regions that was hardest hit and still recovering from the previous El Nino induced drought. Sibetsaphi is a quiet community where most residents participate in the sugar farming industry as farmers or labourers in the fields. Adolescent girls in this community face a number of challenges including dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancy and intergenerational relationships with cane-cutters. The commemoration was graced by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Paul Dlamini who called government and stakeholders to invest in girl’s education because if the girl child is effectively supported and empowered during adolescent years, they have great potential to change the world.  The Deputy Prime Minister expressed concern as well over the escalating gender based violence nationally against adolescent girls and further stated “the Child Protection and Welfare Act of 2012 provides for a Zero Tolerance on Violence in that it is a crime not to report any form of violence against children. Enabling laws are needed to reduce the scourge of gender based violence and deal with sexual offence and domestic violence to protect women and children who are more vulnerable”. The Deputy Prime Minister appreciated support from UN agencies especially UNFPA and UNICEF with provision of dignity kits for the adolescent girls.

Speaking on behalf of the UN system, UNFPA Representative, Ms. Amirkhalili requested all stakeholders to ensure that no one adolescent girl drops out of school due to Gender Based Violence and to ensure the removal of all barriers preventing adolescent girls to pursue their dreams and reaching their full potential.   She emphasized the critical importance that the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill is enacted into law by Parliament for the protection and empowerment of adolescent girls which will also translate to the achievement of sustainable development for the country.

The event was supported by a number of organizations including UNFPA, UNICEF, the Republic of China on Taiwan, development partners and CSOs.    A number of these organizations mounted stalls depicting their respective information and services that were visited by community people and participants at the event. They were a number of motivational speakers for the day who included the Young Woman Farmer of the Year, 6 young female doctors from the Ministry of Health and a young business entrepreneur. Speaking on behalf of girls, 19-year-old Sphakamisile Shongwe had this to say, “thank you Honourable Deputy Prime Minister for spending a day with us. We appreciate our government for the Life Skills programme which assists us to make informed decisions, the school feeding programme and the Child Protection and Welfare Act. 15-year-old Babhekile Ngcamphalala who attended the commemoration, asked what the International Day of the Girl Child means to her had this to say, “it means a girl child is very important and is special to all people. We should be empowered to be proud of who we are and set goals for our future”. 

 

Adolescent girls from Sibetsaphi High School with their dignity kits at the commemoration ©UNFPA Swaziland 2017

DPM viewing dignity kits that were prepared for vulnerable adolescent girls at the UNFPA stall ©UNFPA

Swaziland 2017

Adolescent girls playing during the commemoration of International Day of the Girl Child

©UNFPA Swaziland 2017