Linh, Marcela and Hakima, Plan International young delegates for the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, are passionate about promoting girls’ rights.
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, United States of America, 18 March 2013 – Three young women from quite different parts of the world, but with very similar goals, met at UNICEF House recently to talk about their passion for promoting girls’ rights.
Linh, 20, from Viet Nam, Marcela, 17, from El Salvador and Hakima, 13, from Uganda were in New York as Plan International young delegates for the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at United Nations Headquarters.
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The young women are each involved in work in their own countries to advocate for girls’ education and gender equality. They want to remove the logistical, financial and cultural barriers that prevent girls from getting a quality education and enjoying their full rights.
Linh says high school fees and the lack of facilities for girls make it difficult for many to go to school, and these issues must be addressed if true change is to occur.
“I feel angry. Why can’t they go to school? They have the right to do that,” she says.
Marcela is part of a project called ‘Cultura de Paz’, which trains young people to raise awareness around social issues. She says gender-based violence, child marriage and early pregnancy are among the challenges facing her community, just outside San Salvador.
“I began to demand my rights and tell others that no one can remove them. With my leadership, I try to encourage others to also be agents of change,” she says.
Marcela says that her advocacy training has made a difference at home. Previously, even though her mother works outside the home, her father and brother refused to help with the housework. They now understand that chores are not ‘women’s work’.
Hakima is one of more than ten children, and her parents make enough money to send her and all of her siblings to school. She’s involved in several projects that tackle the issue of violence against women and girls. She says other families are less fortunate.
“If there’s a family where there are boys and girls, and there is just some small money, they usually send boys to school,” she says. “Girls will get married.”
All three young women are committed to raising awareness about the importance of education for girls, encouraging others to examine their attitudes towards gender and driving long-term, meaningful changes in their societies.
For more on the future of education, visit http://www.worldwewant2015.org/education2015 and get the latest news from the Global Meeting on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Dakar, Senegal, 18–19 March.