Elizabeth: In her own words
Elizabeth is one of the 9 Plan-supported girl delegates at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women
My name is Elizabeth, and I am from Malawi. I am in secondary school.
In Malawi, especially in rural areas, girls meet a lot of challenges and because I am a girl I would like to fight for my rights and girls rights too. We are also human beings that need to be respected.
As I was preparing for my trip to the CSW I had to go through the research and asked for data from Plan about reported cases of early and forced marriages and it reported that about 1095 females and 202 males got married under the age of 18 for girls and 21 for boys in 2011. The average age they’re getting married is 18 for girls and 21 for Boys so girls are the victims of life for the following reasons:
Boys are believed to be more superior than girls because of cultural beliefs, lack of role models and unemployment. Because we are lacking job opportunities, those people that have a chance of completing education flock to the cities for jobs and there is no one left to motivate girls for higher education hence they don’t see the goodness of education and get married.
Due to lack of awareness of of our rights, we are likely to suffer girls rights violations.
As a case study a certain girl, who was 13 years of age, was sexually abused. After reporting the case to her parents, they called the man who was a relative.
Because the man was their relative they agreed that he should pay a goat without the consultation of the girl because she was not matured. She did not realise that she was pregnant and continued going to school. Later on the teacher found that she was pregnant and stopped her from coming to school until she gave birth.
Unfortunately she gave birth to a stillborn child. Worse still, the parents took her to the herbalist without going through medical treatment and the herbalist gave medicine unpleasant to her condition…
…and so she died.
She suffered without rights to education, life, protection, expression about her views.
Thanks to Plan for launching this 'Because I am a Girl' campaign, in my experience I will share with my network and then through social welfare I will invite my network and NGOs that advocate for our rights and lobby support to make our voices heard and rights respected. We have to take an action by ourselves for we are the ones who suffer.