Girls in Canada are exposed to many challenges and difficult situations compared to their counterparts, the boys. In line with this observation, it is prudent to shift a little bit of attention to the issues that girls are vulnerable to. Neglecting the girl child is a future problem in the making, and eventually, its effects will catch up with us if caution is not taken. The most vulnerable group of girls is the homeless girls who are exposed to dangers like health risks, social as well as economic dispossession. Addressing such issues, especially with homeless girls, is a profitable engagement to both the government as well as the community.
Justice for girls in the last few decades was unheard of and almost non-existent, but today a number of human-rights groups have come out so strongly to defend the position of the girls in the society as well as of the women (Hendriks, 2010). Therefore, there is no longer room for the historical disparities in the treatment of both boys and girls. Canada, as a country, however, has failed in some of the areas where it is expected to fight for the rights of the girl child. This paper will discuss the impacts and extent of gender discrimination and its effects on the girl child.
Effects of poverty on girls
Girls living in poverty have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a girl and have a first-hand experience of inequality. Mostly the girls who are subjected to poverty have had their rights infringed and are the majority casualties to incidents of rape, early and forced marriages and discrimination in regards to education and a number of other evils in the society. Girls should be protected against such circumstances to avoid their impacts on their lives. It should also be considered that girls are of the weaker sex and hence are more vulnerable to physical abuse. “Because I am a girl” is a project that conducts annual research on the state of the world’s girl in light of challenges and discrimination around the globe and how these affect the lives of the young girls (Banting & Kymlica, 2011).
The government must be involved in the fight against discrimination of the girl child. Girls’ rights have been overlooked in the past and undermined for the mere fact that they are girls, and this trend has to come to an end in the modern 21st century. This is an era of a modernized world, and the decency of human rights is of the essence in today’s world. While it is true that both boys and girls have equal entitlement to human rights, the difference is seen in the accessibility of these rights.
Access to human rights for both genders
Boys are more advantaged and have access to their human rights more easily as compared to girls. Girls are more often deprived of the luxury to exploit and exercise their rights in many different occasions. Depriving the girl child of her rights is the main cause of child poverty. There are so many girls living without a home in the streets of the major cities (Hendriks, 2010). Homeless girls, as I mentioned earlier, are the most vulnerable group of girls. They are not protected from physical abuse such as rape; on the contrary, they are exposed to some indecent activities such as prostitution, drugs, and substances while others are subjected to early unplanned pregnancies and so on. All of these situations are not easy to bear, especially with a child and, in addition, one who does not have a place to call home.
Homeless girls are exposed to violence, and sexual harassment on a daily basis and have to cope with the situation due to lack of a shoulder to lean on. I believe the government and the human rights activists should take the challenge and be the much-needed shoulder for such victims to lean on. Girls all over the world, as well as in Canada, are expected to work so hard on domestic chores hence compromising their ability to develop their intellectual capacities. While the boys are so free with enough time to do academic activities, the girl is expected to do her domestic chores, and still, she is under pressure to perform well academically.
Given this situation, boys will always be ahead of the girls at all times, but it should be noted that this is not so because the boys are better than the girls, only that boys are not under as much pressure as the girls. Unlike girls, boys have enough time to do their studies and finish their homework. Girls, on the other hand, are deprived of opportunities compared to the boy which is a very unfortunate situation that girls have to deal with (Hendriks, 2010).
Girls and education
Educating and investing in a girl has beneficial impacts not only to her personally but also to her family and her community as well. Investing in women gives the society a higher chance in rising out of poverty and having improved livelihood. By the success of women, everyone benefits including men and boys and therefore it is important to consider investing in the girl child albeit not at the expense of the boy child but at an equal level of interest to both. Giving the two genders equal opportunity to explore their potential in all spheres of life is of great benefit to Canada and the entire world as well. Improving girls’ livelihood is characterized by offering equal opportunities to both boys and girls. This is what the “because I am a girl” campaign is all about.
Gender inequality is deemed as the major cause of children rights violations, poverty and exclusion (Hendriks, 2010). This has caused the girl child to take on a low social status in the society and even later in adulthood. In our society today it is the girls and women who are considered to have a lower social status compared to their counterparts the men. Women and girls have less influence over their lives and decisions concerning their livelihood are made by men. They lack the power to make their own independent decisions as well as having less access to resources that can empower them one of them being education.
The tragedy of gender-based discrimination leads to the perpetual cycle of poverty in the society and the only way to break it is through empowering the girl child. This is so due the fact that discrimination leads to girls not reaching their full potential in developing themselves. As a result, they will become poor women who will eventually give birth to children and bring them up in poverty. This again will affect their offspring from reaching their full potential and the cycle goes on and on. The result is a vicious cycle without an end which consequently might stale the economic growth of the country. The greater effects of this cycle are dire and undesirable.
Women’s rights and children rights
The rights of women are very much connected to the rights of children since anything that affects the child affects the mother by extension. This is the reason as to why gender equality and children rights campaigns are merged together as one. Girls are more often victims of violation of rights such as; the right to a healthy start in life, the right to sexual and reproductive health, the right to education, the right to water and health sanitation, the right to adequate living standards, protection from all forms of violence, the right to fully participate as citizens and the right to accessing assistance in emergency situation (Hendriks, 2010).
For the world to keep up with the millennium goals, girls and women must take more productive roles in the society. As a matter of fact, the international goals set have are based on zero tolerance for educational disparity across all genders by the year 2015 (Hendriks, 2010). Girl should be taken to school and be offered equal opportunities as their counterparts. Considering the fact that the women are more often the ones who take care of the children in their early age, it is important to have an informed generation of mothers. To achieve this, it should start from the girls. Having girls access quality education will eventually lead to grown educated mothers. The benefit is that the mothers are in a position to help and encourage their children in academic matters.
As a result, the growing population will be of informed and intelligent children who will form a better and educated population. Illiterate mothers on the hand may not be able to help their children in their academic work (Hendriks, 2010).This will translate to a less educated population with dire economic and social implications abound. If we will be able to offer effective changes in the livelihood of girls, the approach towards their empowerment must change in order to achieve the millennium goals. Girls’ rights must be promoted in all levels of their lives and protected against abuse.
Gender inequality is experienced in a number of different ways including discrimination in the national legislation in Canada as well as social beliefs, unfairness, attitudes, behaviors and expectations from the community. Boys and girls are expected to take divergent roles in the society. This roles are however biased and in most cases the roles assigned to girls are more of domestic nature and mostly dependent on the male figure’s descriptions. Basically, girls in the society are considered the least in terms of expectations and access to opportunities. Gender in inequality therefore should be a thing of the past in the current developed world.
Girls just as boys should be given equal opportunities to develop themselves academically, socially and financially. In our society, we view women success as a threat to the males. This is an uncivilized way of thinking and should be shunned and discouraged in all means possible. In fact, the opposite of this belief is true. Educating and investing in women is a critical approach of solving half of the world’s problems. In Canada, inequality is mostly promoted by ignorance and more importantly lack in knowledge of the girls rights. The girls are not aware of their rights hence they are easily deprived of the same due to lack of knowledge.
Empowering girls will go far in educating them and creating awareness on their rights and protection (Banting & Kymlica, 2011). There are many instances where girls are deprived of their rights but they do not report these felonies because they themselves do not know that these are crimes against their rights. Therefore there is a need to ensure that girls grow in proper knowledge of their rights so that they will not be exploited due to ignorance and be taken advantage of.
Benefits for protecting girls
Protecting and empowering the girl child has a number of benefits to the society as well as to the girl herself. Empowering girls gives rise to a more intelligent generation as I mentioned earlier that intelligent and informed mothers are more likely to bring up intelligent and informed children as well. This is a growth that is beneficial to the society and the country as a whole since a well informed population is more likely to bring a remarkable change in the society compared to an illiterate population. Empowered girls will grow into responsible and insightful women who will be able to contribute to national debates and contribute to policies in national policy making processes.
With women having their rightful positions in the society, they are able to contribute to national matters that affect the society, both men and more importantly the women. Only women can best comprehend the challenges their fellow women face and for this reason it is suffice to suggest that only a woman can effectively address the problems and challenges her fellow women go through. I also would like to assume the reasons why women are marginalized and overlooked in the society is because of the same reason that their problems are left to be addressed by men who do not fully understand how to deal with their issues.
I think things would be quite different if women were allowed to address their own issues. It would be more effective and considerate to empower the women so that they can be able to cease the opportunities available to them and be in a position to take their place in leadership in the society (Banting & Kymlica, 2011). The government must improve the current situation and ensure that girls have better access to resources that will empower them for the future challenges. I expect increased and spelt out campaigns to promote education of the girl child and incentives to that effect so that the girls in Canada can have access to an education and realize its benefits.
School dropout solution
Addressing the causes of girls’ school dropout rate is a good starting point in a bid to improve school retention rate for girls (Czapska & Taef, 2008). While it true there are unavoidable biological processes that hamper 100% concentration of girls in schools, these should not be a reason to compromise their access to better services that would cover up for such situations. Remedial classes can be offered for girls who miss their classes due to such biological process and have them cover-up for the time lost in the process. Respecting girls’ rights is important as it saves the girls such traumas accrued from such practices as early child marriages and other oppressive situations that girls are exposed to.
Reducing school dropout rate is crucial and a step forward in the achievement of millennium goals and goes a long way in bringing up a well informed community and intelligent society. Homelessness has seen small girls fall prey to older men for shelter. The end result for such cohabitation has been numerous unwanted pregnancies that more often than not end up as abortions (Czapska & Taef, 2008). This explains the rising number of abortions and deaths during birth. The rising maternal mortality rate recorded in Canada is as result of young girls’ pregnancies. Many however are resolving to terminate their pregnancies due to poverty and disappointment. This is a health issue that is quite disturbing considering the issues surrounding abortions.
Poverty is to blame in such a situation and that is why empowering the girls is the best and effective way to avoid this kind of conditions. Providing decent shelter for the homeless girls will go a long way in helping and protecting them against sexual harassment and hence help them concentrate with their studies. Girls have already enough natural challenges to deal with as I discussed earlier. Giving them extra challenges is not only insensitive but also inconsiderate and inhuman.
Girl abuse felony
Child abuse is a felony punishable by law and a crime listed in the crimes against humanity act. This internationally recognized crime is the most committed crime but the most unnoticed and rarely reported. Victims of this crime mostly are afraid to come forward to report the matter to the authorities for fear of humiliation and ridicule. Small girls are sometimes lured into sexual activities by close relatives and people they trust. This makes it very difficult for the little girl to report the case for fear of exposing their relatives. Sometimes the girls are intimidated and threatened so they choose to keep it inside. As a result, these incidences will never come out although their impacts on the child are permanently felt.
Rape is mostly misunderstood as a rough and coarse forced sexual harassment, but recent studies have given a more dynamic definition. Any form of sexual intercourse without partners consent is a breach of their rights hence can be considered as rape. Sexual harassment is a felony again punishable by law but mostly when the crime is committed it goes unpunished because the girls do not know their rights and the boundaries set by law to protect their privacy (Czapska & Taef, 2008). For this reason, girls are subjected to emotional distress without knowing where to go or who to run to. The government and human rights activists should take the responsibility to inform and educate the girl child on their rights and protection so that they can be fully empowered and know their rights.
Only by empowering the girl child can the world move forward in the anticipated speed of growth. Countries that have effective policies on the rights of women have the best records of growth socially, economically and event in the political arena. The Middle Eastern countries and Africa who have suppressed the rights of women are not doing very well economically compared countries that hold on an otherwise view with regards to women. Women are the driving force of the world and should be given a chance to prove their worth.
Czapska, A., Webb, A., & Taef, N. 2008. More than Bricks & Mortar. A Rights-Based Strategy to Prevent Girls homelessness In Canada. Vancouver, BC: Justice Girls. Print.
Banting, K., & Kymlica, W. 2011. Canadian Multiculturalism: Global Anxieties and Local Debates. British Journal of Canadian Studies. 23, 45-65. Web.
Hendriks, S. 2010. Because They Girls. Mapping Plan’s Experience in Improving the Lives of Girls. Vancouver, BC: Plan International. Print.