Too often, young people’s voices aren’t respected or included in decision-making processes that affect them. That’s why Advocates for Youth (Advocates) is proud to support the Girl Engagement Advisory Board (GEAB), a team of adolescent girls aged 15-19 from Cameroon, Bulgaria, the United States, Kenya, Pakistan, Madagascar, Jamaica, Nigeria, Egypt, and Nepal. GEAB members engage in advocacy efforts to advance adolescent girls’ rights internationally and to inform, guide and advise Advocates’ efforts to elevate and secure prioritization of adolescent girls’ rights in the global post-2015 development agenda. This week we asked them: How do you hope people around the world will observe International Women’s Day (March 8)? Here’s what they said:
Hamna, age 17, from Pakistan, submitted this video:
She added: “In order to commemorate International Women’s day, it is pertinent to highlight the achievements and successes of women with the publicity of female figures who have accomplished extraordinary feats in their lifetime. This would inculcate a sense of confidence and make women more encouraged to not give up and stand up for their rights.” – Hamna, 17, Pakistan
International women’s day is an important reminder of the progress that has been achieved in promoting gender equality globally. It reminds us that we have to keep raising awareness to show everyone the importance of empowering women and investing in girls. It reminds women that they have a voice that has to be heard. It celebrates the progress that has been achieved over the years such as the increase in the number of working women. However, women’s presence in work, business and schools is still not equal to that of men. Women are still paid less than men and are still victims of violence. In countries like Egypt, people are not aware of the existence of the International Women’s Day. The International Women’s Day is a western idea and, unfortunately, is not known internationally. In the countries that need this idea most, people don’t even know it exists. So to commemorate this day, we have to first let people know it exists. Through campaigning and using media and social media we can let the world know about this day. More people will become aware of the importance of gender equality and, hopefully, we can achieve even more progress. – Mai, 16, Egypt
In Bulgaria, Women’s Day is highly celebrated. There are always special events in local clubs, restaurants, stores, etc. But I think that women should be treated well and be respected not only on this day. They deserve to raise their voices and to be heard, to have equal rights with men, not to be afraid when they are walking down the street that something may happen to them, and freely open themselves to people.
In my town there is an annual tradition of the Bulgarian Red Cross Youth. When I lived in Shumen I was a part of the club and we always prepared flowers from paper and sticks, which we gave away on Women’s Day. We gave away sweets and fortunes with wishes or quotes for women and for the way they should be treated. That makes women very happy, because usually the weather is really bad on that day and they are very busy working or just doing some work and passing by very quickly, but when we stop them to give them the flowers, the smile on their faces couldn’t be described with words. They feel wonderful and we feel wonderful for making something good as well. – Preslava, 19, Bulgaria
I want people to stop and take the time to realize the amazing women and girls around them who are worth wild and strong human beings. I hope that people stop and remember their mothers, sisters, friends, wives, girlfriends, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, and every amazing woman out there. But more than anything, I hope that the women of the world stop to recognize themselves and their own importance. – Allison, 19, United States
Women continue the existence of human race in the world with their power of creation, but due to the conservative thoughts of many people around the world, are considered inferior to men. Women face domestic violence and in many parts of world are subjected to various forms of discrimination and are deprived of their rights. Only celebrating a single day of a year as women’s day is like throwing a stone in a big pond. March 8, the day celebrated as International Women’s Day is today I hope that it will bring rays of light which will eradicate and uproot the darkness of discriminations and limitations. I hope that there will be such a tsunami of awareness and effective and efficient flow of knowledge that will blow away all the conservative thoughts of people towards women. There is a wall of discrimination between men and women which this Women’s Day we hope will be dismantled to the ground, and that this day will be unforgettable and memorable to the world as the day on which brought the world to a better place by ending the discrimination against women. – Muna, 19, Nepal
The girl child is born with the ability and capacity to do great things and achieve anything they put their mind too and are determined just like every other person. At the commemoration of Iinternational Women’s Day, we should all join hands and strive towards gender equality. Let us tell our friends, neighbour, brother, sister, friend, aunt, mother, father, anybody we come across that the girl child deserves to be respected and treated with dignity.
And, the girl child should rise and demandthis respect and every other right due to her.
Remember that even though the man is sometimes called the head and the woman the neck, anywhere the neck turns too the head must follow. Our mothers and future mothers should start this change by training their sons and fathers to know that the girl child is not one who should be denied of her right to freedom of speech, neither is she to be raped or molested, denied her right to quality education. Instead should be allowed to express herself without being judged or discriminated against.
Remember we all have sisters, mothers, aunts, niece, daughters who are all part of the umbrella “girl child” so be watchful of how they are treated.
I am a girl and proud to be one and should be allowed to harness my abilities to achieve my full potential. The moment every girl and women thinks the same way and believes in herself, we are a step closer to a prosperous nation. – Elizabeth, 19, Nigeria
It is my true hope that people would commemorate International Women’s Day by revisiting the most prevalent injustices that plague women in each country. In my country, that would be the fact that girls who are juvenile delinquents are rehabilitated in adult remand centres, as well as older men preying on young girls sexually. I would like for that to be formally addressed through proper legislation that allows for girls to have a channel through which they can report any fear of being preyed upon and have an effective means of protection. On a lighter note, I would hope that we can engage girls and women through a ‘fun day’ and find out why girls are happy to be girls. – Christal, 19, Jamaica