How young people can speak up for girls’ rights
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It’s time to act on girls’ rights so we can build a better future for everyone. Play your part by giving us your opinion on issues like child marriage and FGM, which have devastating effects on girls’ lives and communities in countries across the globe.
Rafick Tawakali, 19, is from Malawi. He has been actively involved in the fight for children’s rights since 2008. Rafick has two sisters and is particularly passionate about protecting girls’ rights.
Why we must end child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM)
I am passionate about ending child marriage and FGM because these practices have devastating effects on a girl’s health, education, development and protection. I have seen and shared the sufferings of so many girls from my school and community, including my two sisters, who married at a tender age without completing their education.
Millions of girls out there need our support. We must act now so that our girls, sisters and mothers can realise their rights.
Why do youth voices matter?
Children and young people make up over 50% of the world’s population. They are the presidents, MPs, even UN Secretary Generals of the future.
But we are ready to lead now as well as tomorrow. Having our voices heard is not only our right but also a valuable resource in achieving long lasting solutions to the issues of today.
Experience has shown that many critical decisions which were made years ago did not take into consideration the voices of young people. Little or no change has been registered as a result. If we don’t give young people a meaningful space to make our voices heard, we cannot create a desirable future.
What you can do
The UK government’s upcoming Girl Summit will take place on 22 July. The summit is focused on ending child marriage and FGM.
I am part of the youth panel that is helping to galvanise further action to end these practices. To ensure we can give a global response to these global issues, we would like to hear from young people from all over the world.
That’s why international children’s charity Plan is leading a youth consultation, supported by the UK government and UNICEF, asking for your opinions on child marriage and FGM.
Your responses will be used to create a mission statement that will be presented at the Girl Summit Youth Event on 19 July and read at the summit on 22 July. This mission statement will influence international policy makers and charitable organisations. It’s a unique opportunity for your voice to be heard at the highest level.
What I want the summit to achieve
Together, our voices can drive positive change in the world. Young people understand the needs of other young people better than anybody, not least because many of the issues that we raise are those we have been through ourselves. That’s why our voices should reach decision makers, to help them make better decisions on issues affecting young people, especially girls.
I also hope that if youth voices are heard, then we as young people will be empowered to hold the duty-bearers accountable on issues that affect us. We will be able to participate meaningfully on development agendas, laying the foundations for a future that we want – a future that begins now.
Please play your part by completing the questionnaire. Together, we can empower girls and women in communities around the world.
For more information read this.