Windhoek – As the world launched the State of the World Population 2016 report, Namibia is no exception as it takes stock of the successes and challenges the girl child experiences at the age of 10 in society.
The report, which was launched on Friday, shows that girls who reach adulthood with an education and their health and rights intact stand to triple their lifetime income, adding that higher incomes and greater productivity can fuel progress for entire countries.
Over the next 15 years alone, the report indicates that developing countries together stand to gain or forfeit at least U$2 billion depending on whether they invest in the well-being, education and independence of their 10-year-old girls today.
The report shows that “our collective future depends on how we support today’s 60 million 10-year-old girls today as they start their journey from adolescence to adulthood.
This year’s theme is “How our common future depends on a girl at this pivotal age.”
The theme is also in line with Namibia’s development aspirations such as Vision 2030, the Fourth National Development Goals (NDP4s), and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
However, vast gaps in data exist in many areas, including poverty, intimate-partner violence and adolescent deaths from pregnancy, especially in the 10 to 14 year-old range.
As a result, the numerous challenges many girls face remain unaddressed, and this valuable segment of society is repeatedly unable to realise its full potential.
Martha Mbombo the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, whose ministry is responsible to coordinate and implement interventions to promote the welfare of the child, explained some of the Namibian experiences facing a girl child.She says at the age of 10, many important decisions are made for the girl child. These include decisions on schooling, division of household chores, friends, work and health among many other choices.
Unfortunately some of these decisions, she said, made on a girl child’s behalf may be harmful to her.
Some girls in Namibia and elsewhere, Mbombo said, still experience the challenges of sexual harassment, rape, child marriage, burden of household chores, caring for the sick, poverty and other gender-based violence related challenges.
She said the development of Namibia requires that both government and stakeholders hold hands to address the challenges experienced by the girl child.
“The investment we make now is important for the achievement of our development aspirations including the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), AU Agenda 2063,” she maintained.
She said Namibia should also recognize that in order to realise the full potential of a girl child, different sectors including non-governmental organisations and the private sector need to play their complementing roles in areas such as health, education, justice, poverty.
According to her, everyone has the responsibility to respect, promote and fulfill women rights including that of the girl child, saying when a family and society invest in the adolescent girl “we all benefit”.