Letters Leading to Evolution

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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.

1908437_556346757831807_942182742305748554_n The letters were displayed on colorful banners at the festival, held in the Patnitala district in northwest Bangladesh. Thousands of people from surrounding communities flocked to the festival to read them, and to select 20 winning letters. The day also included a rally, a film screening and discussion, and cultural performances by the students. The entire day gave girls a rare opportunity to express themselves freely.

Read a few of the inspiring, award-winning letters

“Father, I always wanted to do something special for my family, relatives and of course for my country. To do so, I have to continue my education and earn a good result. I want to work hard to be an independent woman. Baba, you know if I fail to complete my education, I will never be able to fulfill my dream. Please let me complete my education first and then make the decision of marrying me off. I want to prove to myself that I am capable of getting a respectable job and serve my country as a good citizen. I need your blessings.”                         -Aasia Khatun, 10th grade, Patnitala high school

“In our country many girls die prematurely as a result of child marriage. And it is also responsible for family quarrels and fights. Unable to bear this, many girls commit suicide.”  – Nice Parvin, 9th grade Nazipur high school

1908437_556346751165141_7786221573802865235_n“Baba, You arrange my marriage, I am only thirteen! How could you forget about Ritu Apa, who died of giving birth a child at 16! It was you who concurred with other villages that nothing but immature age was the cause of her untimely demise. Please Baba, don’t make the same mistake like Ritu Apa’s parents.” – Sonia Khatun, 8th grade Khirsheen high school

“I will suffer both physically and mentally if you wed me off in this immature age. Please do not make me dependent on someone else. Let me finish my studies so I can be independent.” – Tomy Rani, 10th grade Paddapukur KMH high school

Global Gathering for Girls – Oct 14 at 1pm GMT

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Five countries, six languages, and 100 young people leading change in their communities. Please join Women and Girls Lead Global at our Global Gathering for Girls. We’ll be convening youth from Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Jordan and Peru via Google Hangout to discuss how they’re tackling the greatest challenges facing girls in their countries.

We’ll be joined by Sikha Patra and Salim Shekh, the lead characters from the documentary film Revolutionary Optimists, whose activism has become an inspiration to young people around the world; and by moderator Rebecca Gaynier, founder of iTwixie, an online platform connecting girls’ authentic voices with decision-makers.

Please log on to the Women and Girls Lead Global YouTube Channel to watch the conversation live on October 14 at 1:00pm GMT (see below for time zones around the world).

WGLG will be live-Tweeting about the event and we invite you to join us using #GirlFuture.

Here’s to creating the best #GirlFuture imaginable, together!

 

Global Gathering for Girls Schedule (in GMT)

1:00 – 1:20pm:  Q and A with Sikha Patra and Salim Shekh from Revolutionary Optimists

1:20pm – 2:00pm: Youth participants from Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Jordan and Peru present their challenges and solutions

2:00pm – 2:15pm:  Youth participants exchange solutions

Global Start Times

6:00am Pacific Daylight Time (U.S.)
9:00am Eastern Daylight Time (U.S.)
8:00am Peru
1:00pm Greenwich Mean Time
4:00pm Kenya
4:00pm Jordan
6:30pm India
7:00pm Bangladesh

Add a Twibbon to show your support!

“Proud to support the #GirlFuture” or “Real men support the #GirlFuture”

 

 

Signs of Change at Schools in Bangladesh

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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. Continue reading

Powerful New PSA Urges Peruvian Parents to Talk to Teens Now

Teenage girl writes down her anonymous question at a WGLG Peru youth event.

Teenage girl writes down her anonymous question at a WGLG Peru youth event.

“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. Continue reading

Town of Runners

Long-distance running is a way of life in the Arsi region of Ethiopia. In a country well acquainted with poverty, famine and war, world-beating athletes are a source of intense pride. Many of the world’s greatest runners hail from Bekoji, a small remote town in the Southern Highlands. In the Beijing Olympics, runners from the town won all four golds in the long distance track events–more medals than most industrialised countries.

Town of Runners follows three children from Bekoji keen to follow in their heroes’ footsteps, as they move from school track to national competition and from childhood to adulthood. Set against the background of the seasonal rhythms of this farming region, and the impact of increased urbanization and globalization on agriculture the film shows rural young Africans striving to make their own future.

Miss Nikki & the Tiger Girls

Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls is an intimate portrait of a spirited young Australian band manager as she tries to empower Myanmar’s first all girl band to speak out in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

“I don’t know if I’m helping or hindering them. But once you’ve encouraged someone to find their voice, you can’t just expect them to shut back up again can you?” The film follows the quest of one idealistic ex-pat and five starry-eyed Myanmar girls who are fighting for their right to sing in a country where freedom of speech carries enormous risk.

The Tiger Girls have emerged at a sensitive time in Myanmar’s history. After their first election in two decades and the recent release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a mood for change exists. There are obvious parallels between the destiny of the country and the destiny of the band. Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls is a powerful metaphor of a country on the brink of change. It explores freedom of expression, censorship, art vs. fame, and the ripple effect of empowering the voiceless through music.

Youth Driving Change in Peru

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The face of recognized political actors is changing in Peru.  With scarce resources but strong conviction, youth organizations are fighting for their rights and achieving important social change. Decision-makers are starting to listen. WGLG Peru bets on the power of youth, seeking to build a platform that better connects young leaders to audiences who influence their future. Continue reading