The British High Commission Kolkata, Bruce Bucknell delivered a keynote speech to mark yesterday’s International Day of the Girl Child.
He told the audience that the UK, “champion the rights of women and girls around the world.”
He said, “You may be thinking why am I here speaking to you today.”
“I’m a middle-aged man.”
“I have two sons.”
“You could easily describe me as ‘part of the patriarchy.’”
“Why am I here today talking to you on International Day of the Girl Child?”
“This is a day to think about how to tackle issues that contribute to gender inequality, and the challenges that young girls face everywhere on a daily basis.”
“We all need to be invested in empowering them [girls] to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities.”
“This is not just for girls and women.”
“We all have mothers and grandmothers.”
“We all have a female relation, and some of us have sisters and daughters.”
Bucknell went on to suggest ways in which people could “treat others as you would have them treat you.” He spoke against the use of language to discriminate a person; against the promotion of sexual stereotypes; and promoted the equality of opportunity.
International Day of the Girl Child has been marked on 11 October since 2012. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights.
The United Nations led initiative supports more than 1.1 billion girls worldwide.
This year’s initiative is called ‘EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises’, and marks the beginning of a year-long effort to spur global attention and action to the challenges and opportunities girls face before, during and after crises.
Concluding his speech, Bucknell said, “To return where I started, I am here speaking to you today on the International Day of the Girl Child because I am a man.”
“I have a mother and sister and I have sons.”
“I am of woman born.”
“I want to make the world a happier place.”
“A place where everyone laughs.”
“And where everyone can speak up and be heard.”
“That is why it is my role, just as much as yours, to work for gender equality.”