I do. My greatest hope for both my children is that they will grow to flourish and be all they can be.
I hope they live free lives, full of joy and opportunity, peace and safety. That they advocate for others and speak up for injustice and do so from a place of strength.
My hope is for beauty not pain. Loving hands not abuse, words of life not words that crush.
I am no different to every mother.
The Pacific region has some of the worst violence against women and children in the world.
UNICEF reports that nearly half of all adolescent Girls in developing countries think a husband is justified in hitting his partner.
I work with communities in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu and have wept with Girls and women listening to stories of horrendous sexual and physical violence at the hands of people they trusted.
You’ve heard these stories too, they may be your stories. They are brutal and devastating.
Today is International Day of the Girl. The theme is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the cycle of violence.
‘a Girl & her world’ is a grassroots organisation committed to empowering adolescent Girls. We work to keep them in school and empower their parents to be able take back this responsibility with dignity.
We hold annual workshops with local police and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre on ‘Staying Safe’ from sexual predators and knowing their rights. Next year this will include staying safe online as the world wide web finds its way to the remote Pacific.
We are not under any illusions that we will fix it all, but we are a community of people working for change. We are passionate about playing our part in breaking cycles of poverty where it is in our hands to do so.
And we are guided by a local team finding solutions to their own problems.
Education is a deal breaker. Being at school is safer for Girls than staying at home in the village or being 14 and having to find work. One of our Girls was about to be married at this age before her father agreed to getting her back to school.
We love this short clip from the Girl Effect and the way it lays things out. We also love that a teenage Girl from Pakistan who was shot in the face for wanting to go to school, has yesterday been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize . Congratulations Malala Yousafzai!
Finishing school delays babies and marriage. Every year spent in secondary school increases a Girl’s potential earnings by 15-25%. The school community provides space for Girls to learn that violence is not ok, that their bodies are their own and their ME circle is as close as people are allowed to come without permission.
Providing income generating projects for families enables them to keep their Girls in school so that options like early marriage or working in the market at 14 become less of a necessity for survival. The projects that work best include veggie patches, chicken coups for eggs and meat, bee boxes and sewing machines for tailoring.
We stand in solidarity with Girls experiencing violence around the world today.
We weep with them, we hope for freedom and peace and healing…We are committed to staying the course, to empowering adolescent Girls to be all they can be.
May wings to fly be yours sweet ones. You were created to thrive!
Jane for team ‘a Girl & her world’