Thousands of young girls wrote passionate letters declaring their right to stay in school and out of child marriage to commemorate National Girl Child Day in Bangladesh this year. The Youth Summit and Letter Festival – organized by Women and Girls Lead Global, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum and Youth Ending Hunger-Naogaon – called on girls to write open letters to their parents, telling them why they didn’t want to marry young. Over 3,000 girls from 53 different schools in Bangladesh participated, sharing their desire for freedom and their disappointment that the law banning child marriage for girls under 16 is not being consistently upheld.
”Ahora es Cuando” – Now is the Time – is the name, and also an important message of Women and Girls Lead Global’s (WGLG) campaign in Peru. Traveling to remote rural communities in the Amazon and Andes regions, the WGLG Peru team found that parents and adolescents in these communities were deeply uncomfortable discussing important reproductive health issues and associated risks. Urging parents to talk to their teens sooner rather than later about these pressing issues, the Ahora es Cuando campaign highlights the important connection between timely access to reproductive health information and the completion of secondary school.
When a 10 year-old girl in Haryana, India can see that her community is in need of more male heroes to protect the safety, livelihood and rights of women and girls, something must be done.
In October, “The Hero Project” – a campaign that aims to prevent gender-based violence in India by challenging harmful gender stereotypes – launched the #ChangetheStory Contest. Hundreds of rural communities in Pune and Beed and slum communities in Bombay and Delhi watched a series of three documentaries about various forms of violence against women, shared their thoughts about them in lively conversations, and were then challenged to develop their own solutions to gender-based violence. In January, four of the 190 participating communities were awarded $1000 in seed money to implement their projects. Among the winning ideas: a strategy for tackling the drug abuse that is provoking violence in boys and men, and a plan to develop a playground reserved for girls.
Bhagwat Thorat pulled each of his three daughters out of school when they reached puberty, fearful that if he waited too long to find them husbands they would have fewer prospects, that they would become victims to sexual violence, or if nothing else, that his investment in their education would end up benefitting the husband’s family and not his own.
Purity Wangui Muchai hails from Nakuru County, Kenya. At only 23, she has already been a student leader for the past 3 years. She heads the Women Students’ Welfare Association (WOSWA), reaching over 37,000 female students at the University of Nairobi and other campuses throughout the country. Women and Girls Lead Global’s campaign in Kenya, Women in the Red, encourages girls and women to pursue leadership opportunities by showcasing the stories of strong role models like Purity.
Schools are gradually becoming more girl-friendly in northwestern Bangladesh, thanks to the interventions of the Best Schools for Girls campaign. Last month, 18 Women and Girls Lead Global film facilitators in Naogaon province gathered for a two-day retreat to share stories about the changes that schools in their area have implemented since the campaign officially launched in October 2013.
Sufiya Kuhtan, of Tala Upazila, Bangladesh, became a child bride when she was only 13. By 14, she had already become a mother. When her husband, the only earning member of the family, fell ill several years ago, Sufiya had to overcome tremendous financial hardship to provide for her daughter Selina’s education and give her a better and more secure future. Their dream? That Selina will become a doctor.
We often think of leadership as monumental and large-scale, such as founding an organization or initiating a movement. But leadership comes in many forms, and WGLG Country Engagement Coordinator Josephine Karianjahi discussed with the Kenya Television Network’s host Michael Gitonga during a recent interview on “Morning Express.” Gitonga spoke with Karianjahi about the goals of WGLG’s Women in the Red campaign: to encourage more women to take on leadership positions, and to celebrate women who have exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities.
The “Share Films… Share Change” challenge was presented to a young group in Jordan: produce a short film that tells a story about the gender discrimination in your community. Young Jordanians participating in the Women and Girls Lead Global campaign were asked to combine knowledge they had acquired from the campaign’s documentary film screening with phenomena they’ve personally experienced.