In commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, 14-year-old Esther Nakamanya was given control of Uganda’s leading financial institution, Stanbic Bank as acting Chief Executive for the day. She chaired a meeting with senior Stanbic bank management and interacted with staff and customers.
In her remarks, Esther noted that during Covid-19, as the world moves online, girls have been exposed to online violence more than ever. They are stalked, sexually harassed, intimidated, cyber bullied and blackmailed when they use social media. “This prevents girls from freely engaging on social media platforms to express their views and be part of important conversations and development processes. I am calling on all Ugandans to take a stand against harassment of girls online. Girls should be left to explore online innovations that will shape their future without fearing harassment or abuse”, Said Esther.
While handing over her key responsibilities to Ms. Namayanja, Anne Juuko – Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank Uganda emphasized the importance of providing mentorship and inspiration to young girls today as they face multiple challenges growing up and navigating through the life.
“We must prioritize our efforts to amplify the voices of young girls and women across Uganda. This will give them the opportunity to become future decision makers, policy creators and hold influential positions in both the private and public sectors. We must change perceptions about what is possible for girls and as we celebrate international day of the girl child, the takeovers highlight girl’s potential to be strong leaders and key actors in social and economic development.”
“As a bank, we have therefore committed ourselves towards helping to encouraging more women in the workplace and level the human resource capital playing field. We have also put in place policies and measures that ensure women stand an equal chance when applying for jobs in the bank. This is the reason why women constitute 52% of our current workforce.” Ms. Juuko Added.
The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated annually on 11th October to raise awareness about the issues faced by girls around the world. With the support of Plan International, girls in different parts of the country are being supported to momentarily assume leadership positions through Girl Takeovers; under the theme: Free To Be Online. In doing so they will shine a light on the harassment and abuse girls and young women face on social media.
The theme follows a recent survey by Plan International which engaged 14,000 girls across 22 countries, finding that online harassment takes a profound toll on girls’ confidence and wellbeing, with 39% of those surveyed saying it lowers self-esteem, 38% saying it creates mental and emotional stress and 18% saying it can cause problems at school.
Speaking at the event, Greg Lavender, Head of Programmes at Plan International Uganda noted that with so many young people engaging on social media during COVID-19 pandemic, the research ‘Free To Be Online? ’ resonates globally. We are seeing an increase in the abuse of girls in online spaces , limiting the ability of girls to learn express their views and shape the public space .
“As societies are tested and adapt, it is crucial we build a different kind of world for girls. Girls, in all their diversity, need to know that when they’re abused and threatened online, they can report it. That they’ll be listened to. That action will be taken, and that perpetrators will be held to account. ”Said Greg
Today’s event is a fine example of partnership between the private and development sectors, working to call attention to the realising girls’ rights and to support girls to freely raise their voices in any space without fear of harassment.
Addressing a press briefing Esther Nakamanya emphasized the invaluable contribution girls and young women can make in the corporate sector if given the chance in a free and non-violent online environment. She thanked Stanbic for the opportunity and promised not to let them down by using the experience as the “Chief Executive” of the bank productively to shape her and millions of Ugandan girls’ future career.