My Voice, Our Equal Future! Joining the Chorus of Girls Who Are Speaking up for Change

Girls are change makers and world shapers! When girls speak up, they are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Leaving no girl behind Girls in South Asia continue to face barriers to accessing a quality education. The region has some of the highest rates of girls and young women who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Even before COVID-19, nearly 1 in 3 adolescent girls from the poorest households had never been to school . At the secondary level in crisis-affected contexts in South Asia, there are significant disparities between boys and girl’s enrolment rates, with boys nearly three times more likely to enroll in school than girls. “Change is possible. We believe each girl is unique and has the potential to excel. We help girls improve their self-esteem to express their hopes to make decisions about their own lives. We are the voice for every girl, let’s create an equal future.” Working together to build a more equal future We cannot do this alone – girl-led and girl-centered cross-sectorial partners are key. When child protection, adolescent development and gender considerations are integrated into education and services they become holistic, safe, relevant and meaningful . Essential cross-sectorial work includes mitigating school safety risks; training all staff on gender responsive practices and gender-based violence; recruiting female teachers; providing unconditional cash transfers; offering life-skills groups tailored to adolescent girls; and, shifting the social norms that cause girls to be kept out of schools, which requires engaging with caregivers and religious and community leaders that have influence. Building a versatile set of skills Supporting adolescent girls to bridge the digital divide and gain 21st century skills is critical. This includes building life skills that can help girls to better navigate challenges and gain skills and support for employability . Transferable skills, such as stress reduction, emotional regulation, decision-making, goal setting, critical and creative thinking, conflict resolution and assertive communication help promote self-esteem and self-confidence that will last a lifetime . “The representation of women in technology is less, while there is a need for more professionals in the industry. Through some of our community education programmes such as career guidance, we received more support than expected which means there are interested young girls, who want to learn and build a career in this industry, and what they need is guidance and support.” Niuma, Women in Tech Maldives – IDG 2020 South Asia Challenge Winner “72 per cent of girls [in our programme] have gotten their first jobs and are now earning more than the father and the brother of the family, combined. Now she has a say in the decisions, not just in her own life, but those of her entire family. This increase in self-worth and self-respect is what truly contributes to her healing.” Sonal, Protsahan Girls Champions, India – IDG 2020 South Asia Challenge Winner Paving the way for a brighter future Adolescent girls should be at the lead in making social change on efforts in returning to school post-COVID-19. To ensure their engagements are genuine and not tokenistic, they must be at the forefront of the design and monitoring of return to school efforts. “Gender discrimination is embedded in my country, especially in terms of income, employment and politics. Though it is not highly prevalent, it does exist in a certain manner, where boys somehow take the lead by getting a social advantage. This is why, I am pitching my idea as a voice and representation of all Bhutanese women.” Pema, Cracking the code, Bhutan – IDG 2020 South Asia Challenge Winner Our commitment to listening and taking action! Girls everywhere are breaking boundaries and challenging stereotypes . Whether she is leading the path as an entrepreneur or an innovator for a girls’ rights movement, girls are using the power of their voices to create a world that is unrestricted and inclusive for them and their future generations. “We believe that every girl-led advocacy begins with listening. We believe that not only the future, but the present belongs to girls and they can take action now. This IDG 2020, let’s give girls a platform to share the causes that they are most passionate about, that they want to change, and to create a world and reimagine a future which is truly shaped by girls and for girls.” Riju, Nepal Scouts – IDG 2020 South Asia Challenge Winner Follow @IPSNewsUNBureau   

2020-11-20 | Asia-Pacific, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade | English |