It Was a Bleak ‘Day of the Girl,’ but No One’s Giving Up Hope
Sheila Mulrooney Eldred - NPR
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October 12, 2022

October 11 marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl. It's a day created by the United Nations to "highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face."

It's also a day to assess where girls stand: what they want and what the world needs to do to give them their rights.

But finding signs of progress for girls in 2022 is difficult.

I asked one of the experts I interviewed for this story if she could offer a reason to be hopeful for the future of girls. She's Agnes Igoye, Uganda's deputy national coordinator of the prevention of trafficking in persons during the first two years of the pandemic and a Senior Aspen New Voices fellow.

Instead of offering hope, Igoye replied with a cause for concern: "In 10 years, the children born of incest will have grown, so we'll have to have that discussion as a world."

She's referring to one of the many ways that COVID-19 has had an impact on the lives of girls. During the pandemic, she said, parents are going out to work or do errands and kids have not been able to go to school – their safe space – during various lockdowns.

Girls were often in homes "with a lot of abuse," says Stephanie Musho, a human rights lawyer in Kenya who is also an Aspen fellow.

"It is extremely devastating and sad," says Igoye.

Teen pregnancy — including pregnancy from rape and incest — is just one of the ways the pandemic has stalled progress for girls in many countries.

"What we're seeing is a shadow pandemic — even though I hate the term, because it makes it seem lesser," Musho says. "In what's being called 'the shadow pandemic,' the burden was falling a lot on girls."

And the world is just beginning to unpack the impact, including the pandemic newborns. "We're going to have to deal with the children born during COVID-19," says Igoye of Uganda, pointing to rising rates of teen pregnancy. "The girls got pregnant, but the people responsible for those pregnancies were closer to them — fathers, cousins, laborers, teachers, pastors or siblings.

"Because the children will have issues, and they're going to question and have challenges. We'll have to deal with that as a world."

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Read the rest at NPR

Related: International Day of the Girl Child: Invest in Women and Girls to Unlock Their Potential (Vallarta Daily News)

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