It is the International Day of the Girl and StreetInvest want to acknowledge the strength of the all the street-connected girls our partners work with around the world.
It is a common misconception that ‘street kids’ are boys, but this is far from the truth. In fact, all our partners work with girls. Street-connected girls may face different challenges on the streets to their male peers.
We know that girls can be expected to trade in sex to meet their basic needs, including accessing shelter and food. Girls may be also less visible than boys on the street, which can stem from a heightened need for self-preservation. Sexual violence is commonly reported in all countries.
But we also know that girls can be key to change. Girls on the streets are frequently caregivers for siblings, friends and their own children. Which means that supporting street girls can cause a positive ripple effect: when a street worker supports a girl, it can have a knock on affect across their social circle.
Supporting girls in Ghana
In Kumasi, Ghana, there are actually more girls than boys on the street. In 2013, we counted 5,455 street-connected girls in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi, compared with only 2,376 boys. These girls are often referred to as ‘kayaye’ or head porters. Some of these girls are born on the street; others migrate with their families. But the majority travel alone from the northern regions, looking for work in the city.
Our partner in Ghana, Muslim Family Counselling Services (MFCS), do a lot of work to support these girls and young women. They help them to be safer on the streets, support them to access basic services like health care and can connect girls to other local organisations.
Breaking down barriers in the community
MFCS also work with individuals across the community to increase the girls' sense of belonging. Many of the girls report being treated badly by those in the main Kumasi market. We heard about a young women who had rubbish thrown over her by a group of men. Shaming acts such as this are not uncommon. The street workers work with individuals and groups such as shop keepers, to promote the girls' right to be in the market undisturbed.
The photo above shows a forum that MFCS hosted today for the girls they support. They explored issues they faced on the streets and barriers to positive development.
Street workers across our network strive to champion the rights of girls such as these and support them to grow in the most positive way, not just today but every day. We thank them for their unwavering commitment.