Today marks the International Day of the Girl with a special spotlight on “With her: A skilled GirlForce”. Girls face multiple challenges, purely because of their gender: from being denied an education to being forced into child marriage; from being judged by their appearance to having their voices ignored.
Of the one billion young people – including 600 million adolescent girls – that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector. This means that their jobs are neither regulated nor protected, and low pay, abuse and exploitation are common. The most disadvantaged girls – including those living on the streets and those with disabilities – have even less access to decent work.
Take Ghana for example. The last census in 2011 revealed that 57% of the 61,000 street children in Accra were girls. In 2013, there were 750,000 pregnant girls, aged between 15 and 19, in Ghana.
Girls like Abena, who is one of five siblings from Kumasi in northern Ghana. When she was just 10 years old, her father passed away. Shortly after, her mother sent the young girl to Accra to find work to support the family.
In Accra, Abena started selling drinking water but couldn’t earn enough to buy food, let alone send money to her family. Living on the streets, alone and scared, Abena, like many other street girls in Accra, was left with little choice but to start sex work to survive. She soon became pregnant.
Thankfully, our project gave her shelter and safety at the House of Refuge. Along with psychological support and health checks, Abena got to learn something essential for her future: she learned to sew. As she explains “One day, I want to own a big sewing shop and be someone ”.
So today we are supporting Unicef’s call to develop A Skilled GirlForce to give a better future to more children like Abena. Increasing access to inclusive education and vocational training is essential to ensure that girls are given the same opportunities to break the vicious circle of poverty and exclusion.
With your help, we can spread awareness of the hardships faced by girls like Abena and ensure that, on the International Day of the Girl, no child is forgotten. Make sure you’re following us and share, like and comment our social media posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Your donations make a big difference too. Together we can improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in Africa. Please donate what you can today.
Find out more about what we do for street children.