Posted by: ginalazenby | October 13, 2014

The Day of the Girl & Malala speaking on the Power of One

It was brilliant timing that the world’s most famous girl should be on the front covers of most newspapers this weekend as Saturday October 11th is now known as the International Day of the Girl Child. What better poster girl could you have to draw attention to the plight of girls than Malala Yousafzai?  This is the second year that the UN have highlighted the need to care for the safety of girls, something that has long been campaigned for by the international charity Plan.

PLan sponsored child Oumou

My sponsored little girl Oumou

Plan is one of the oldest charities focusing on child development and one of my favourites to work with. I sponsor a girl child with them (my fourth, two graduated at age 18 from the program and one sadly died of malaria). Little Oumou is 6 years old, lives in Mali and it is hoped that my funding and Plan’s great work will keep her safe, well and educated to give her choices when she gets older. Malala saw that without an education, her own life would be, as she put it, limited to being imprisoned in a room, cooking and caring for children.

There is nobody more vulnerable than a girl
Malala is using the global platform that she has earned to highlight the fact that 62 million girls around the world miss out on an education. A excellent short movie called “The Girl Effect” clearly demonstrates the dangers faced by 12 year old girls who live in poverty and are not in school. They could find themselves married off by age 14, pregnant by 15 and at 16 in danger of having to sell their bodies to feed their families, risking HIV infection. If that 12 year old girl is in school she is more likely to be healthy, less likely to be married off and has a chance of making her own choices in life, getting married when she wants to and having children when she chooses, and enabling her next generation to follow in her footsteps.

Do watch the Girl Effect movie… it’s really powerful.

The Power of One
As Malala herself said at the United Nations… “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 6.43.41 amThe plight of girls and the power of one girl is very much at the heart of a  documentary movie called Girl Rising. It’s is a MUST WATCH if you have not seen it. I first saw it in Sydney last year …. it shares the stories of nine girls in different continents across the world. I wept when I saw 8 year old Wadley recreate her story in Haiti.

 

The tears stayed with me through the whole film as I watched how these beautiful little girls had stepped forward with courage or grasped the opportunity presented by a champion who showed up in their lives.

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Wadley is so disappointed not to be allowed back into school (image from the Girl Rising movie)

Everything changed in little Wadley’s happy life when she came home from school on the afternoon of January 12th, 2010 … a devastating earthquake ended the life she knew. She and her mother survived but in the aftermath Wadley’s days were spent fetching water … no more school for her. When she discovered her classroom had been reformed in a tent she excitedly grabbed her school books and joined her friends sitting on the end of a bench.

 

When the teacher spotted her and asked her for payment … even with her little understanding of money she knew her mother no longer had any … she was forced to get up and leave. I can’t write those words without feeling her disappointment. It’s painful to witness something like this. And bless little Wadley for recreating her own story for the film.
Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 6.48.56 amWadley so loved school and wanted her education that the next day she went back and simply refused to leave that bench. She defiantly stood her ground. The teacher let her stay. The film goes on to share the story of Suma who was sold by her family at age six into child slavery in Nepal. Bonded to a master from age 6 she became a Kamlari … domestic slave until her rescue six years later.

Do watch the movie (online) and witness these stories  … although they are heartbreaking, your spirits will soar with hope when you see what these girls are doing. One girl at a time, one teacher at a time, one social social worker, one champion, one donor….. what one action can we each do that could create change?

This is why we need to take action:

  • in one year 115 million girls are victims of sexual violence
  • 80% of human trafficking is of girls
  • every year 15 million girls face child marriage
  • 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married by their 18th birthday
  • a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to survive beyond the age of five
  • 700 million women today were child brides

An editor at the Pakistan Observer is quoted in the Sunday Times as telling the BBC that Malala had not really been shot and described her “as a normal useless kind of girl”. Girls are a vital part of the future of the world … we cannot see them as useless.

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