Earlier this year I was delighted to receive an email from Plan UK, a branch of the international children’s charity, inviting me to join them for an afternoon of networking (with tea and cake – they know me well!) to find out more about their girls’ rights campaign, ‘Because I am a Girl’.
I’ve been a supporter of Plan since I first started sponsoring a girl in India through them, well over ten years ago now.
While travelling I have met many girls and women who have been affected by some of the issues Plan are campaigning about and I’ve been involved with a few of their campaigns before so I was delighted to have the opportunity to find out more about their work.
There was just a small group of us which meant we had a chance to speak to everyone. A fascinating and very enjoyable day followed, at the end of which I was very happy to accept their invite to become a digital ambassador for Plan UK, writing about their campaigns, attending events and promoting their goals through my blog and social media networks.
I hope to learn, not just the facts and figures, but also to gain a greater understanding of the issues behind these campaigns.
Face Up: Putting girls’ rights where they can’t be ignored
Plan work with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them move from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity. Their ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign aims to ensure that all girls can live safe from violence, go to school, marry who they want, when they want and have their voices heard. Personally I have nothing against arranged marriages for young women (not girls) who chose this freely but I do firmly believe it should be their choice.
Plan are focused on preventing child marriage and ending female genital mutilation (FGM) in a generation – but this can only be achieved with your help. Face Up is a chance for the British public to add their voice to the campaign. You can take part by trying out the ‘Face Up’ app at plan-uk.org/FaceUp.
It’s very easy and quick to do. Simply upload a photo of your face and the app will digitally place the words “I’m putting girls’ rights where they can’t be ignored” onto your photo and add it to the Face Up online gallery. You can also, show your support by sharing your photo on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #faceup and #girlsrights, and by encouraging others to get involved. There’s some ideas for Tweets at the end of this post.
Once you have added your photo you will also, be asked if you would like to sign up to the ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign at plan-uk.org/FaceUp which I would urge you to do.
FGM and child marriage are violations of girls’ rights. Together, I believe we can end them both in a generation. Plan is working to end FGM and all forms of violence against girls in the world’s poorest communities. Much has already been achieved, but there is still so much more we can all do.
This isn’t something that only affects girls living far away in other countries. 170,000 girls and women have been affected by FGM right here in the UK. More than 3.5 million girls worldwide and 65,000 girls in the UK are at risk of FGM this year.* It’s hard to comprehend.
Worldwide, every two seconds another girl is at risk of being forced into marriage. One third of the world’s girls are married before the age of 18, and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15.*
Listen to Girls’ voices
The voices of girls who are living with the consequences of FGM and child marriage are not being heard. That’s why Plan is facing up to the plight of girls, and putting their rights where they can’t be ignored.
Mary, 13, from Mali, was seven when she was forced to undergo FGM.“I still remember the day I was cut, and I even remember the lady who did it – she is friends with my mother. She came to my house with my grandmother and pulled me to the toilet. I was terrified. I kicked and screamed and tried to run, but I was not strong enough.
Since then Plan has helped my community to learn of the serious health problems FGM causes, and now my younger sisters will not be cut. FGM will be an old story here now.”
Lamana, from Cameroon, was 15 when she was forced into a violent marriage. “Each time he wanted to have sex with me, he beat me badly. He wouldn’t allow me to leave the house, and I felt so depressed I tried to take my own life. My father was sad, but he didn’t want me to leave the marriage because of what people would think about our family.
With Plan’s help, I’ve returned to school to study computer science with the support of my family. Now I’m free from the marriage and I’ve learned I have the power to take control of my life.”
The third International Day of the Girl
Friday 10th October 2014
Will you join me and face up to girls’ rights today and share these messages across social media channels. Please also share them again this Friday on International Day of the Girl.
Calling all Londoners
If you live or work in London, grab the chance to try out a Face Up photo booth, which will be placed at Waterloo Stations on Saturday.
Here are a few suggested tweets for anyone wanting to help share this on their social media channels and a huge thank you to everyone one of you who does.
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
Plan is working to #EndFGM & all forms of violence against girls globally. Will you help &,#FaceUp to #girlsrights? plan-uk.org/FaceUp
I’ve just put the rights of girls where they can’t be ignored. Will you join me? #FaceUp to #girlsrights today plan-uk.org/FaceUpSocial
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Hello, I’m Kathryn, a travel writer and photographer based on the south coast of England.
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