June 6, 2016

Better lives for girls are coming, but we must speed up

Written by Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen

Young woman speaking

Photo: Plan International

This post originally appeared on Plan International’s website. Reposted with permission.

Maya, a 16-year-old girl from Dolakha district in Nepal, is already a mother and a wife. Nepal has the second highest adolescent pregnancy rate in South Asia, and it is estimated that one in 10 girls there will marry below the age of 15. A large proportion of them will drop out of school.

But Maya was able to go back to school and has access to an Adolescent-Friendly Space for girls aged 12-18. Of the 22 girls in Maya’s group, half are married, some are pregnant, and others are mothers already. At the end of March, Maya took her school leaving exams and hopes to continue on to higher education. She knows her situation as a young married woman with a child will make things more challenging, but she is using her experience to raise the confidence of other, younger girls: “As a girl, you already face many barriers. It is better to focus on your own goals and complete your studies.”

Maya’s story shows how we can go beyond describing the tough reality, to changing it. We can be led by an optimistic realism, focused on the power of girls rather than their plight, and on enabling girls to learn, lead, decide, and thrive.

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