"My voice, our equal future."
Today, October 11, 2020, is internationally recognized as the "International Day of the Girl." It is celebrated annually to recognize the strength, power, contribution, and potential for girls worldwide. In 2020, the focus is involving girls and women in the dialogue and decision-making about their lives, their futures, and their bodies.
from the World Health Organization (WHO):
International Day of the Girl celebrates the importance, power, and potential of girls around the world.
It is also a day to highlight girls’ needs and the particular problems they can face, and drive efforts that meet these needs and fulfill their rights – not benevolently for them, but in partnership with them.
While much progress has been made in the last two decades to ensure every girl is able to grow and develop in good health, there is much still to do. For example, 12 million girls are married before age 18 each year. One in five girls globally has experienced sexual violence. In Eastern and Southern Africa, nearly 80% of new HIV infections among adolescents are among girls.
No decision for girls should be made without them The 2020 theme of International Day of the Girl is “My voice, our equal future.” This is a striking call to recognize girls’ inheritance of the still-unfinished Beijing Agenda, their expertise on the challenges they face especially for their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and their limitless capacity as change-makers.
To commemorate the day, WHO co-organized a virtual intergenerational dialogue between girl advocates and high-level leaders about putting girls and their rights at the centre of decision-making processes.
Lubinda, a 15-year old advocate from Zambia, captured the sentiment of the event: “If every child can be given the chance to express themselves and talk about issues that are affecting them, then we can have a wide range of voices being represented.”
“At the same time, we have to be equipped with the knowledge, because without it, we will not be able to participate [in international systems].”
*Photo credit (above): WHO
“ Success is no accident, It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do” Pele
When I met my little friend and her family in January I was not their service coordinator. She was referred to early intervention because she was not walking and was about 18 months old. She was however a whiz when it came to numbers and letters. Over a series of events I did in fact end up becoming her service coordinator. This transition took place just a couple of weeks prior to covid-19. At this very same time we had a gentle conversation about some concerns that her pediatrician had as well as some concerns of mine.
She was displaying some characteristics and behaviors that led us to believe that perhaps she had autism spectrum disorder. As anyone can imagine this was an extremely difficult thought for her family to process. Just as we were beginning to have this conversation, the covid-19 pandemic hit. Everything was on hold for a few weeks. Just as we were beginning to develop this relationship and I was welcomed into their home I was no longer able to go into their home. But this was not going to deter this amazing mom. She was doing everything that she could do for her child. With the coordination of early intervention, my friend’s family, and her pediatrician we were able to make the process happen so that she could have an evaluation at UMass. This evaluation was done via Zoom. Once she received a diagnosis of ASD the referral process happened so she could receive ABA services. We went from a 100% in person in home service model to completely virtual overnight. And in the midst of this and all of the chaos we were able to get this referral completed, give this family the support and services that they needed, and get services into place. All of this was done through technology. It's been a couple of months now that she has been receiving ABA services. Not only is she walking, she's putting sentences together and she is making excellent eye contact in initiating play. She responds to her name, she calls her parents by name, and has made extraordinary strides.
The journey that I've gone on with this family in particular has been the one that has stuck out to me the most during this pandemic. It can be very difficult to build a rapport with a family under the best of circumstances nevermind a family that is going through such a difficult diagnosis. It is even more difficult during a time when you are not able to physically be with the family. While there were definitely many days and nights I had no idea how we were ever going to service our kids through early intervention in this new format, I can honestly say that this particular experience was a success.
Pernet Family Health Service, Inc.