Empowering Girl Child through skills development
Today, the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child and its theme, ‘With Her: A skilled GirlForce’.
Unicef explains that the challenge the Girl Child faces today is that while she may be preparing to enter the world of work, she is often under-prepared and at risk of being unemployed, not in education nor training, a NEET.
Often, she is not empowered with transferable skills such as self-confidence, problem-solving, teamwork and critical thinking. Furthermore, some schools in the 21st Century are not empowering her to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The Western Cape DSD is empowering both women and the Girl Child. In 2017, the Western Cape DSD and Department of Economic Opportunities launched the joint skills, training and economic opportunity programme called the Women Empowerment Initiative. This programme established a referral pathway, through the DSD Victim Empowerment Programme, providing 310 women from 16 funded shelters for abused women; with skills, training and economic opportunities.
These are just some of DSD’s initiatives aimed at empowering the Girl Child. These services are accessible from any of our 45 local offices across the province or by contacting the DSD hotline on 0800 220 250. We can protect and empower our girls if we work, ‘Better Together’.
More than ever, the Girl Child’s talents need to be nurtured by mentors and through training, so that harmful gendered stereotypes do not exclude her.
Unicef reminds us that to develop a skilled GirlForce, the global community must:
·Create inclusive and accessible schools, training and learning opportunities to empower girls with disabilities;
·Change gender stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias to provide girls with the same learning and career opportunities as boys;
·Increase girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning;
·Create initiatives to support girls’ school-to-work transition, such as career guidance, apprenticeships, internships and entrepreneurship;
·Deliver large-scale public and private sector programming for girls’ skills and market-adapted training;
·Enable access to finance and enterprise development for female entrepreneurs; and
·Form strategic partnerships with governments and private companies which can act as thought leaders and financiers, helping to train girls and bring them into the workforce.
On the International Day of the Girl Child, let us stand with her and empower her. She is the future lawyer who will defend the most vulnerable in our society and the doctor who heals the sick and wounded. Her empowerment is necessary to develop skills and remove the gendered barriers she faces.
Attention broadcasters: please see English audio clip below