Girls' Voices Need to be Heard

by Because I am a Girl

The 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) takes place between March 10 – 21st at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The priority theme for this year’s CSW58 is challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. Plan International is proud to have a delegation of young women in attendance, speaking on behalf of girls in their communities. This is Humaira’s story.

My name is Humaira. I am 18 years old. I am from the district of Muzafurgch in Pakistan. It is the most remote and poor area of Pakistan – recently affected by the worst floods in the history of our country.

Girls rights are important! Our voices were not heard in the last millennium development goals so we want to make sure that they are heard in the next goals. Life for girls in Pakistan is not good because there is a lot of gender inequality. There are many challenges faced by girls in my community.

I have a friend named Uroosa. She was in my class at school. She has one brother and five sisters. Her father could not afford her school expenses and wanted to lessen his burdens, so when Uroosa was 15 he forced her to marry a man of 25 years. She now has two children and is disheartened and sad. Now her dreams cannot come true. She now looks after her children and does not have time to study. She will never get an education. This makes me very sad because she has been deprived of her basic rights.

To stop this happening to other girls I believe it is important that girls and boys are included in the decision making of the new goals in 2015 so that good decisions are made through hearing our voices. We know best what is happening to us and the kind of problems we are facing so we know best how to tackle them. This is why world leaders should include us.

I believe the post 2015 agenda needs to include three things:

Quality education – In Pakistan there are less primary schools for girls than there are for boys, and schools comprise of only one room without basic facilities and have very few or no teachers. When the floods came to Pakistan in 2010 my school and many others were destroyed. I was off school for four to five months. I moved to another city to live with my grandmother so I could carry on going to school. This makes me sad because most other children could not go to another city and had to stay in a very bad environment with no school. Education is also important because I believe if Uroosa’s father had been educated he would not have taken the step to get her married.

Also providing employment opportunities for girls needs to be a priority. Poor people who cannot afford an education often force their children to marry and cannot give their children their basic rights.

Finally, I believe protection from violence is also very important. This is a basic right for all girls. We should all be protected so we are safe from things such as child marriage.

I ask you to keep any eye on all us girls and our lives and promise that you will support us all to reach our true potential.