Wednesday 27 May 2015

I'm Raising Two Strong Girls

As part of ONE's #Poverty is Sexist campaign I have a great video to share with you today. 'Strong Girl' is a powerful song featuring nine female artists from seven African countries -Victoria Kimani, from Kenya, Vanessa Mdee, from Tanzania, Arielle T, from Gabon, Gabriela, from Mozambique, Judith Sephuma, from South Africa, Waje, from Nigeria, Selmor Mtukudzi, from Zimbabwe, Yemi Alade, from Nigeria and 14-year-old South African rapper called Blessing.

I've shared before that this year is when the new Sustainable Development Goals will be set and ONE is calling on the prominent women who will be part of the summits this summer to make sure that the interests of women and girls will be top of the agenda. It's widely known that poverty disproportionately affects girls and women but only ONE are being brave enough to shout it out that Poverty is Sexist. When women in many countries can not earn a fair wage, own land, attend school, marry of own their free will or make decisions for themselves then things have to change.

I hope you enjoy the song as much as I did, it is very catchy. I played it to my 7 year old twin girls and got them involved in taking my #Strengthie picture that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago and I took the opportunity to speak to them about what it is like to be a girl in many developing countries. They were very, very surprised to learn the realities of what life is like for young girls like them and due to their age I could not even share many of the things that are happening such as FGM or gender based violence.

Have a read of what my girls have to say about how poverty is effecting girls in Africa and other developing nations:

What do you think about the fact that there are girls your age sleeping in the streets in India?
  • Miss M – It is terrible Mummy, I would like to give them some blankets and I'm so lucky I have a bed.
  • Miss E - It's not OK, we all should have families to love us, do they not have foster families there Mummy?

Do you think it is right that girls in other countries might get married at 12 years old and maybe to a man who is 50 years old?
  • Miss M – that is disgusting, it can’t be real. Why do their parents not say no, they are just a child?
  • Miss E – Girls should not be marrying old men. I would at least wait to get to know someone my own age before I married him. 50 is older than you and Dad.

Did you know in some countries only boys go to school?
  • Miss M - Is that actually true mum? That can’t be right, all children have to go to school to get smart and get a job.
  • Miss E – if they do not go to school, they have to work at home I expect and that is no fun for them.

Why is it good that girls get to go to school?
  • Miss M - So they can learn new languages, make friends and have fun. Also so they are cared for, the school will treat them well and respect them.
  • Miss E - Young girls should not be working at an early age, they should be learning so they have a good education for when they are older.

What do you think a good education means to girls?
  • Miss M - It will mean a lot, they will be really happy and get a good job.
  • Miss E  -To help them get a good job, like an office girl job.

Are boys more important than girls?
  • Miss M – We are all the same Mummy, why would anyone think that?
  • Miss E - No (in an outraged cry), that is sexist!

What do you think life is like for some girls in Africa?
  • Miss M - That are Sad and alone. Their houses are not secure like ours and some might not even be lucky enough to have a house.
  • Miss E - No, they do not have a good life, no good education, they need good water and they die from dirty water. They need to have proper houses with food and beds that are not cold. It would be really good if they could have food banks in other countries so everyone can have enough to eat.

Do you think it is right that that we have so much, when others have so little?
  • Miss M - I don't think it is fair that I have so much, I really want to do something that will help the girls in other countries, what can I do mummy? Send them my pocket money? I think there is a verse in the bible that tells me to help anyone in need and to trust they won't get hurt.
  • Miss E - I think everyone should be equal, each country should have the same amount. If any country runs out they should get more from other countries.

What do you think you can do?
  • Miss M - Can I send some food, sweets and toys?
  • Miss E - I can pray for them, I can collect some money. A little bit of money goes a long way if everyone gives a little.

I loved having this conversation with my girls and it really opened their eyes and mine. Things I assumed they knew, they of course didn't and I was surprised at just how much common sense they spoke.

I'd definitely advocate talking to your kids about the issues facing children in other countries as if we help them develop knowledge and compassion at a young age we have a far better chance of helping to see the end to extreme poverty in our lifetime (or at least theirs!).
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