Because I am a Girl
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.

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.

I am Elizabeth from Malawi. A problem in my community is the lack of positive role models. There is not a lot of employment in our village, so when girls get an education they leave to go to the city. There are no educated women living and working in our town, so girls do not see education as necessary.

I hope working with Plan and attending the Comission on the Status of Women in New York will help us come up with solutions to these problems.

planyouth:

Fatmata’s story of violence and determination
Fatmata is one of the 9 Plan-supported girl delegates at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women
My name is Fatmata, I am 17 yrs, and I now live in a small town in Sierra Leone. I will tell you a story about my life from when I was 11.
I was living with my uncle in the capital city, by then I had just taken my NPSE Exams (National Exams that will take you to Secondary School.) My uncle had a wife, and they had two children. In their house the children were lazy and did nothing, so I had to do all the domestic work and chores.
All this was before I went to school. I had no time to study, and I was always late for school. That made me drop my academic work and get bad grades. My aunt flogged me (which is a term to beat or torture a child). Corporal Punishment is common in Sierra Leone. She used different items like a cane, a barbilon, her slippers, or a stick.
But by then I was too young to communicate with my mother and tell her what was happening, and she was living in my hometown. My teacher noticed I was always late to school and getting bad grades, so she asked me why. I explained to her that my aunt was beating me and making me do all the chores. She helped me write a letter to my mother, and we sent it to her. She sent my grandmother to come and take me from my uncle.
So finally I was taken from the city to another part of Sierra Leone. I continued my life with my parents. I went to school in the town. I am in secondary school now, and about to graduate. I get good grades and in the future I want to go to university and become an accountant.
My uncle sometimes comes to visit us, and tells my grandmother he is going to take me back to live with them in the city. I know my rights, so I tell him “No, I am not going!” My grandmother does not want me to go with him either.
In the future I want to live in a city, get married, and have 3 kids. My mother felt bad because she wasn’t expecting my uncle to do this to me because he was my family member.

planyouth:

Fatmata’s story of violence and determination

Fatmata is one of the 9 Plan-supported girl delegates at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women

My name is Fatmata, I am 17 yrs, and I now live in a small town in Sierra Leone. I will tell you a story about my life from when I was 11.

I was living with my uncle in the capital city, by then I had just taken my NPSE Exams (National Exams that will take you to Secondary School.) My uncle had a wife, and they had two children. In their house the children were lazy and did nothing, so I had to do all the domestic work and chores.

All this was before I went to school. I had no time to study, and I was always late for school. That made me drop my academic work and get bad grades. My aunt flogged me (which is a term to beat or torture a child). Corporal Punishment is common in Sierra Leone. She used different items like a cane, a barbilon, her slippers, or a stick.

But by then I was too young to communicate with my mother and tell her what was happening, and she was living in my hometown. My teacher noticed I was always late to school and getting bad grades, so she asked me why. I explained to her that my aunt was beating me and making me do all the chores. She helped me write a letter to my mother, and we sent it to her. She sent my grandmother to come and take me from my uncle.

So finally I was taken from the city to another part of Sierra Leone. I continued my life with my parents. I went to school in the town. I am in secondary school now, and about to graduate. I get good grades and in the future I want to go to university and become an accountant.

My uncle sometimes comes to visit us, and tells my grandmother he is going to take me back to live with them in the city. I know my rights, so I tell him “No, I am not going!” My grandmother does not want me to go with him either.

In the future I want to live in a city, get married, and have 3 kids. My mother felt bad because she wasn’t expecting my uncle to do this to me because he was my family member.

becauseiamagirlscout:

A banner at the “Bringing it Home” alumni panel.

becauseiamagirlscout:

A banner at the “Bringing it Home” alumni panel.

becauseiamagirlscout:

This video was shared at the “Bringing it Home: Youth Delegates Share the Impact of the CSW” event held today. The video was compiled of footage from CSW alumni.

Photo: Plan/Zack Seckler
Maryam giving her speech at Plan’s panel: Breaking Vows - Ending Early and Forced Marriage, Feb 28th, 2012, CSW 56
‘Good afternoon everybody. My name is Maryam from Pakistan and I am a representative of all girls of my community and country. 
In our country early and forced marriages are very common. Average age of marriage of a girl is 15 to 16 and often it happens that girls get married at the age of 13 to 14.
I have much fortune that my parents are well aware and that is why I am not married. My parents know the effects of early marriage on a girl as well as on her life after marriage. That is why they have not forced me to get married.
There are many examples in my community but I want to share the stories of two girls. 
One girl, who we will call Shazia, is only 14 years old…
She belongs to a poor family. Her father is a laborer and she has two sisters and one brother. She is now going to get married because her parents think that this is her suitable age to get married because they can’t afford her expenses so she has left her school and is now doing the preparation of her marriage.
When I asked her, ‘Are you happy with parents decision?’ she told me that she is happy of her parents’ decision. ‘My parents make a good decision for me,’ she said, ‘and I am hopeful that my husband will permit me to get education after marriage.’ She said that her brothers are going to school and it’s a miserable condition that she cannot.
Now the question is, is she too young and unable to think about herself?
Will her parents give dowry and many other things to her at her marriage ceremony?
Does she have hopes that after marriage she will get education and will spend a happy life?
But it is not certain that things will happen as she is thinking and that her parents will be responsible for her, whatever happens in her life after her marriage.
The other one story is about a girl we shall call Praveen
Praveen is 12 years old. She lives in a nearby village. 
Praveen’s parents arranged for her to marry a man who is 32 years old. The girl was sent to live with the man’s family as his wife, even though she did not know the meaning of the word ‘marriage’.
Praveen was too young, with a childish mind and thinking. She liked to play with toys in her husband’s house. These were the toys belonging to the grandchildren of her parents-in-law.
 
Praveen’s mother in law was not very good to her. She got angry when Praveen played and complained to Praveen’s father that she often eats the tomatoes she is meant to be cooking for the family.
After 3 months of marriage, Praveen’s husband decided to divorce. He was angry with her. She was too innocent and unable to adapt to her husband and his family. Even though she was 12 years old, Praveen’s parents blamed her for the divorce. In the community it is the girls’ fault if she divorces, not the man’s.
After the divorce, Praveen was sent back to live with her parents where she weeps and remains sad. At the age of 12, she does not know the meaning of marriage and divorce has ruined her life. Now her parents feel she is a burden and want to marry her away again as soon as possible.
I think that early marriage stops the mental, physical and educational growth of the girls and they are not able to participate in the development and progress of their family life as well as country and community.
I will work in my community to help reduce the rate of girls who are affected by early and forced marriages. I will give them awareness, conduct meetings with them, share experience with them and discuss with them in simple language.
My recommendations are:
·         Parents and families should be educated and aware of what will happen after marriage.
·         Surrounding environment should be supportive.
·         Parents trust on girls is always important role in girl’s life.
·         Enough resources should be there for families.
 
Parents, families and girls may think marriage sounds charming, because they can get new clothes, but they should keep in mind the hard realities of what early and forced marriage brings. The dream will be broken.’
Thank you.

Photo: Plan/Zack Seckler

Maryam giving her speech at Plan’s panel: Breaking Vows - Ending Early and Forced Marriage, Feb 28th, 2012, CSW 56

‘Good afternoon everybody. My name is Maryam from Pakistan and I am a representative of all girls of my community and country.

In our country early and forced marriages are very common. Average age of marriage of a girl is 15 to 16 and often it happens that girls get married at the age of 13 to 14.

I have much fortune that my parents are well aware and that is why I am not married. My parents know the effects of early marriage on a girl as well as on her life after marriage. That is why they have not forced me to get married.

There are many examples in my community but I want to share the stories of two girls.

One girl, who we will call Shazia, is only 14 years old…

She belongs to a poor family. Her father is a laborer and she has two sisters and one brother. She is now going to get married because her parents think that this is her suitable age to get married because they can’t afford her expenses so she has left her school and is now doing the preparation of her marriage.

When I asked her, ‘Are you happy with parents decision?’ she told me that she is happy of her parents’ decision. ‘My parents make a good decision for me,’ she said, ‘and I am hopeful that my husband will permit me to get education after marriage.’ She said that her brothers are going to school and it’s a miserable condition that she cannot.

Now the question is, is she too young and unable to think about herself?

Will her parents give dowry and many other things to her at her marriage ceremony?

Does she have hopes that after marriage she will get education and will spend a happy life?

But it is not certain that things will happen as she is thinking and that her parents will be responsible for her, whatever happens in her life after her marriage.

The other one story is about a girl we shall call Praveen

Praveen is 12 years old. She lives in a nearby village.

Praveen’s parents arranged for her to marry a man who is 32 years old. The girl was sent to live with the man’s family as his wife, even though she did not know the meaning of the word ‘marriage’.

Praveen was too young, with a childish mind and thinking. She liked to play with toys in her husband’s house. These were the toys belonging to the grandchildren of her parents-in-law.

 

Praveen’s mother in law was not very good to her. She got angry when Praveen played and complained to Praveen’s father that she often eats the tomatoes she is meant to be cooking for the family.

After 3 months of marriage, Praveen’s husband decided to divorce. He was angry with her. She was too innocent and unable to adapt to her husband and his family. Even though she was 12 years old, Praveen’s parents blamed her for the divorce. In the community it is the girls’ fault if she divorces, not the man’s.

After the divorce, Praveen was sent back to live with her parents where she weeps and remains sad. At the age of 12, she does not know the meaning of marriage and divorce has ruined her life. Now her parents feel she is a burden and want to marry her away again as soon as possible.

I think that early marriage stops the mental, physical and educational growth of the girls and they are not able to participate in the development and progress of their family life as well as country and community.

I will work in my community to help reduce the rate of girls who are affected by early and forced marriages. I will give them awareness, conduct meetings with them, share experience with them and discuss with them in simple language.

My recommendations are:

·         Parents and families should be educated and aware of what will happen after marriage.

·         Surrounding environment should be supportive.

·         Parents trust on girls is always important role in girl’s life.

·         Enough resources should be there for families.

 

Parents, families and girls may think marriage sounds charming, because they can get new clothes, but they should keep in mind the hard realities of what early and forced marriage brings. The dream will be broken.’

Thank you.

becauseiamagirlscout:

Teresa and Fatmata are dressed in African dresses made of Brilon and Gara. Girl Scouts are wearing uniforms today.

becauseiamagirlscout:

Teresa and Fatmata are dressed in African dresses made of Brilon and Gara. Girl Scouts are wearing uniforms today.

becauseiamagirlscout:

For the last couple days, the girls at Plan International have been preparing speeches for their upcoming events. I helped the girls rehearse and we worked on proper English grammar. When I wasn’t working with the girls giving speeches, I started working on a new video. For the next couple weeks,…

Female Empowerment Song

becauseiamagirlscout:

Some of the girls from South Africa taught the other youth delegates a female empowerment song at the Youth Delegate Reception:

Leli lizwe elamakhosikazi. Alisoze laphela amandla!

This world belongs to the women. It will never lose power.

becauseiamagirlscout:

Thanks to Fatmata and Teresa, I got my hair cornrowed yesterday! Lorisa got hers done as well.Pictured Left to Right: Lorisa, Fatmata, Me, Teresa

becauseiamagirlscout:

Thanks to Fatmata and Teresa, I got my hair cornrowed yesterday! Lorisa got hers done as well.
Pictured Left to Right: Lorisa, Fatmata, Me, Teresa