“Digital generation. Our generation.”
11 October 2021
The history of modern girlhood is entwined with anxieties about cultural norms and cultural change that are foundational to “girlhood” and “girl culture.” Despite these challenges, we appreciate the important role being played by individuals and organisations around the globe who are determined to make the world a better place for the girl child.
In 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 and declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child in recognition of girls’ rights and the different challenges they face around the world including ensuring that girls are mobilised as ‘agents’ in the different aspects of our society. ZELA celebrates this day against the backdrop of the recently adopted resolution by the Human Rights Council recognising the Right to exist in a healthy and safe environment which girls across the world advocated for as agents under the banner of #MyPlanetMyRights campaign.
The theme for this year is centred on the “Digital Generation”. This theme was brought about by the recognition of the fourth industrial revolution taking over the world and impacts of COVID 19. Technology is at the centre of the evolution of world development, and the girl child is not to be left out. ZELA strategic plan is to empower and encourage the participation of the girl child in spaces they were traditionally left out. The organisation has made it its mandate to ensure that girls are not left out as espoused in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ‘leaving no-one behind.’ This has also seen ZELA partnering with girls, engaging them while striving to put their recommendations into action with the objective of finding sustainable solutions to issues that they face. In our various consultations and engagements during the #MyPlanetMyRights Campaign, some of the discussion that emerged as crucial include the importance of digital literacy, reliable electricity, devices, and the internet, and how they can impact the ways girls interact, educate themselves, and participate in political discourse, therefore closing the digital gender divide and ensuring access to the internet.
This includes participation and consultation in the critical decision-making processes. ZELA has been using the digital space to drive advocacy campaigns for example “My Planet My Rights” campaign. This campaign has been spearheaded through the use of social media platforms like WhatsApp groups, Twitter and Facebook wherein youths and communities came together to discuss and find solutions on environmental challenges they are facing in their respective districts and wards. To ensure inclusivity and a wider reach, the campaign utilised community radios to disseminate information. However, a wider digital gap still exists in the remote areas of Zimbabwe and the world over as 2.2 billion people do not have internet connectivity, yet the world has gone digital. As we commemorate the Day of the Girl, our call is for governments to support girls and make access to the digital space affordable including closing the gender gap on internet in a mission to build an equal society.
During the recently held 2021 Youth Symposium, youths bemoaned the high cost of data and appealed for a review ofof the “digital media tax” to foster participation of youths in natural resources and economic governance processes. There is also need to make sure that during the digital migration, some are not left behind. In addition to promoting internet access for girls, we must also make sure their online spaces are safe and enabling. In today’s world, the girl child needs to be equipped for a digital future which is safe and encouraging by offering the kind of shared and equitable access which has long been one of the key priorities for the global library field. Overcoming gender inequalities in access to digital technologies and the internet is certainly an important step to realising that goal