In a recent letter published by anti-poverty charity ONE in marking International Women's day, the Letter stated 20 hardest countries to be a girl; Niger, Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Chad and Comoros. The letter which has been endorsed by iconic figures like Chat show queen Oprah Winfrey, singer Elton John, boxer Muhammad Ali, actors and actresses Robert Redford, Colin Farrell, Charlize Theron, Meryl Streep and Patricia Arquette, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and U2 singer Bono, says that
"In too many countries being born poor and female means a life sentence of inequality, oppression and poverty - and in too many cases also a death sentence."
Even though the world have made strides in creating awareness on gender disparities in education, increase of female numbers in board rooms, leadership positions and support of women led start-ups, it is still a mistake to be born a girl.
HIV/AIDS: it has been documented that in the recent trends, new HIV infections involve people under the age of 25 with the majority of these new infections being young women. One out of every two deaths of young girls in Africa, AIDS is responsible. For instance, In South Africa where unemployment is estimated to be at 40% mostly affecting young people, due to lack of alternatives for earning a livelihood, poor girls get lured by older men with gifts and cash and even food in exchange for sex. Due to this factor, UNICEF figures show HIV prevalence in girls living in South Africa at 13.6% compared to 4.5% for boys.
Ebola: During the Ebola heightened crisis, WHO reported 4,493 died as a result of the disease. Over 75 per cent of people who contracted Ebola were women and it was argued that this was because they are often the primary care-givers, nurses and traders within their communities. So, it fair to say, one would avoid Ebola by virtue of being a man!
Also, just to mention that as a result of risks posed by the Zika virus to the unborn child, the 'don't go to Rio' message is predominantly targeting women who are or thinking of getting pregnant.
Education: In recent research by UNESCO, Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the largest gender disparities; girls account for 55% of all out-of-school children and 52% of all out-of-school adolescents. In the Save the Children #DayOfTheGirl campaign, they mention that girls are 3 times more likely to not go to school than boys. If you are a 'man' be very grateful, chances of going to school are very high!
War and Conflict: Nicholas Kristof, an American journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes described his recent trip to war torn South Sudan as 'killing field on the edge of town marked by skulls and bones littering the ground, attracting vultures and hyenas...' in the article that was published by New York Times he says that It is easier to find women and girls who have been gang-raped than who are literate. This sums up devastating effects of any war. Women always come out as a weaker sex.
As the world is celebrating International Women's Day, we should remember that it is not a luxury to give girls basic education. It is one sure way of giving them much greater power, of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead.
The future must not belong to those who bully women. It must be shaped by girls who go to school and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.
President Barack Obama