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International Day of the Girl Child

Recognition of International Day of the Girl Child

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14 October 2014

Speech by Lawrence Temfwe [Director of the Jubilee Centre, Zambia] at the Commemoration of the UN International Day of Girl at Christian Bible Church Ndola 11 October 2014

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As we celebrate the International Day of Girl Child I would like to remind you that October 11 is not just a day; it’s a movement.  The Day of the Girl is bigger than one issue and even the day itself. The day gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we aredoing to fully achieve gender equality everywhere. Today ought to be a time of celebration because the Girl Child is living her life to the full (John 10:10). Today we must celebrate that we rescued girls from early marriages; thank families that have come forward to provide shelter for the orphaned girls; recognize individuals that are paying school fees for the vulnerable girl child. Today we should be talking about the importance of foster parenting and adoption systems. Can we really say we are improving the living standard of the girl child?

Also, let us remind ourselves that in few days our country will be commemorating 50 years of independence. It is important for you girls to understand the sacrifices made by our leaders to free us from the slavery of the British rule and that of Arabs and Portuguese. Missionary, David Livingstone the first white person to open our country to the colonialist went as far as saying that Africans, “would only be persuaded to accept the Christian gospel if their social conditions were improved.” Remember this girl child, that the entrance of the gospel and the end of the Arab-Portuguese slave trade were the major objectives that sprang from the missionaries Christian faith.  Our chiefs did not want our people to be sold into slavery.  Out of fear they sought British protection with the help of missionaries. In this agreement the colonialists also got most of our land that was fertile, mining rights, governing rights and taxes and other privileges.

Sadly though, some missionaries actively participated in the political, economic, cultural and mental exploitation of the African people.  As Africans Christians who were at missions stations become more politically conscious they found themselves confronting the combination of government and missionary power.  Christianity and faith was the driving force in making Zambia, shaping its destiny as a beacon of peace and friendliness to the world. Girl child you are the reason why our forefathers fought for independence.

Lastly, United Nations started this annual event because it saw that in many cultures the Girl Child is undervalued. I am here to tell you that God values the girl child as much as boys, women and men. I am here to tell you that before God instituted marriage, He created a girl child and boy child in His image and told both of them to subdue the earth. Girl child, I am here to tell you that God has blessed you with leadership gifts to help make this world better. You’re creative, you’re clever, and you’re courageous. You must never wait for life to get easier, but you must stir yourself up with that brave spirit in you and face the challenges ahead of you.  Listen to what Malala a Pakistan girl said at the UN after overcoming the challenges of a system that did not want her to go to school.   “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.” Go Girl child. The Lord your God is with you. He will never leave you alone or forsake you. Girl child may power and courage be born in your life today. Amen and Amen.