Saturday, 11 October 2014

International Day of the Girl 2014


These are my girls, my 7 year old twins and I love them dearly, they are both such fun but in very different ways and I could not imagine my life without them in it. Hopefully I never will have to.

My girls are really lucky to be growing up in the UK where they have access to all the same things that my son does. I try to treat all three of my children equally and fairly, of course that doesn't mean they get treated the same as every child is different and has their own unique set of needs and desires. But fundamentally they all go to school and have similar lessons, they can do extra curricular activities to suit them, they all get medicine if they need it and when I dish up their dinner, their plate is filled according to their appetite and size, not according to which sex they are.

I'm also completely relieved to say that my girls will never be forced into marriage and certainly not whilst they are still children and they have no need at all right now to know that some girls are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM). Thankfully the only violence they get exposed to is their brother playing rough.

My girls are sadly in the minority, in so many countries in the world, especially in the rural parts of those countries girls are treated very differently to boys. Many are viewed as an unnecessary expense, or a sexual toy or a punch bag. I'm reading Half the Sky at the moment and I keep being exposed to examples where girls and women have been raped and the poor community which they live in has no idea how to fight back.

I know that many people are wondering why there is a need for an International Day of the Girl, they think it is about the feminist movement trying to strive forward and that girls are getting an unfair advantage but this just is not the case. Research shows that when girls stay in education in the developing world less of them will end up being sold into the sex trade and that when women are working and earning a living their families lives are enriched as the money is shared more fairly and goes on the family not male pursuits like drinking or gambling.

I'm passionate about playing my part in helping all people be equal and that is why I'm really excited to be travelling to Washington, D.C. in just over a week to attend the ONE AYA summit to hear from inspirational speakers about the progress being made in Africa in the fight against extreme poverty. I'm also pleased to work alongside many charities like Plan and Save the Children.

Right now Plan is campaigning for girls rights under the banner 'Because I am a Girl' and they want to put them where they can't be ignored, so I've joined in with thousands of others to add my face to their #FaceUp gallery and send a message of support, will you do the same?

Face Up is a chance for the British public to put girl’s rights where they can’t be ignored. You can take part by trying out the ‘Face Up’ app at plan-uk.org/FaceUp. The app digitally places the words “I’m putting girls’ rights where they can’t be ignored” on a photo of your face and adds this to our on line gallery of supporters. You can then show your support by sharing your photo on Facebook and Twitter, and encouraging others to get involved. It was really simple and took me just a couple of minutes to complete.

If you need a quick fix, then why don't you use one of the tweets below -

  • Join me & help put the rights of girls where they can’t be ignored. #FaceUp to #girlsrights today at plan-uk.org/FaceUp 
  • #FGM & #childmarriage violate girls’ rights. Together with @planuk, we can end them both. #FaceUp to #girlsrights plan-uk.org/FaceUp 
  • Every two seconds a girl is forced into marriage. It’s not right. Help do something about it. #FaceUp to #girlsrights plan-uk.org/FaceUp

I hope you will show your support for International Day of the Girl and Plan's #FaceUp app.

I'll leave you with an image of some of the wonderful girls and women I met when I travelled to Ethiopia in 2012 and witnessed for myself the inequality that women face.

Most images are mine, a few are credited to Karen Walrond/ONE

Be blessed, Mich x

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