In Bangladesh, 45 percent of the total population consists of children below the age of 18, of whom 47 percent are girls. A girl child is not only a future mother but also a great asset to a country’s development. As long as girls are treated as inferior and less valuable than boys, the sustainable end of hunger and poverty will not be possible.
With a view to build mass awareness of the importance of valuing girls, securing their rights and advocating for policies that improve girls’ lives, the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum (NGCAF), of which The Hunger Project is a founding member, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and Bangladesh Shishu Academy celebrated Bangladesh’s National Girl Child Day 2014 on September 30 on the theme “Ensure Education and Nutrition; Stop Child Marriage.”
More than 600,000 people celebrated the day in 61 out of Bangladesh’s 64 districts. At the national level, the celebration began with a colorful rally, after which participants took part in a meeting and cultural program. The rally was launched by Honorable State Minister of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Ms. Meher Afroz Chumki MP, who stated that child marriage is a curse of the progress of Bangladesh. She encouraged all to stop child marriage and work to ensure education and nutrition for girl children in Bangladesh. More than 2,600 participants from 51 organizations took part in the rally.
Awards were given to 35 children who participated in a corresponding essay competition and art competition, which was created around themes by age group, such as family, natural disaster, girl’s education and the role of parents in child marriage. More than 5,000 students participated in the competitions.
The festivities also included a special awareness debate competition, and the publication of a supplement in the newspaper, Daily Samakal, by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum. The President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also issued separate messages on the occasion of the National Girl Child Day 2014.