July 15th, 2010 was a long day. A really long day. A really awesome, long day. School Girls Unite teamed up with Plan USA in support of the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. This proposed law is stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and so School Girls Unite, along with about 20 other youths from Washington, DC, descended on the Senate to ramp up support for this bill.
The first comprehensive state-based center and museum in the U.S. had its opening celebration in downtown Baltimore on May 25. The current exhibit called "Generations for Justice" includes a picture of some School Girls Unite leaders. Also, our action guide, "Girls Gone Activist" is on display at the Maryland Women's Heritage Center. This museum is "adding herstory to history to tell our story." Our thanks to the visionary creator Jill Moss Greenberg and Linda Shevitz, both of whom have been terrific supporters of all our global gender equality efforts!
About a dozen of us from four different schools went to Congress on April 21 to participate in the Global Campaign for Education Action Week. Our sisters in Mali took part in similar lobbying activities in Mali.
We started by attending a news conference with Jessica Alba and Congresswoman Lowey who made the case for creating a Global Fund for Education to make sure every girl and boy in the world get a primary education by 2015. A short video produced by the National Education Association includes great photos of SGU.
Across the street from the United Nations, 16-year-old Donnady Coquila Lao from the Philippines and youth advocate with PLAN captured the attention of international audiences when she described the “gender stereotypes” during the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. She said “In our knowledge and technology-based economy, girls face poverty. Most girls have no chance to take the exam for college and there are few scholarships to allow us to follow our dreams...Most have two options: stay in the village and become a young mother with no permanent job or work in a shop or other low paying job.”
Donnady voiced support to make September 22nd the Universal Day of the Girl. Bangladesh, India and Japan that already celebrate this day. She suggested that this annual event would increase public awareness for treating and respecting girls and boys equally. One campaign underway is in Canada and for more information, check out www.becauseiamagirl.ca
These messages are presented to you by Les Filles Unies pour l’Education in Mali in partnership with School Girls Unite of United States of America
« Mon père, ma mère, mon tuteur, Donnez moi la chance de grandir et de continuer mes études. Ne me mariez pas trop tôt. Le mariage précoce est une entrave à la scolarisation des filles. »
“My father, my mother, my tutor, Give me the chance to grow and continue my schooling. Do not marry me too young. Early marriage is like a ball and chain and hinders the education for girls. »
« Mes pères, mes mères et mes parents, inscrivez vos filles à l’école. Car, éduquer un garçon, c’est éduquer une seule personne, alors que éduquer une fille, c’est éduquer toute une nation. »
''My father, my mother and my relatives, enroll your daughters in school. Educate a boy, you educate one person, but if you educate a girl, you educate a nation.''
Je suis la Présidente des Filles Unies pour l’Education au Mali et je prends la parole pour adresser les problèmes qui nous concernent… pour revendiquer l’équité du genre et la jouissance de nos droits.
Nous sommes les jeunes qui changeons le monde maintenant car nous sommes les plus nombreux et c’est notre avenir !
Et comme le dit notre nom : LES FILLES UNIES POUR L’EDUCATION, avant tout l’éducation est la chose la plus importante au monde : « Ladamuni ka kan ka ɲesin mɔgɔ bɛrɛya yiriwali ma, hadamaden josiraw matarafali ni hɔrɔɲa bajuw sinsinni. ». Ca c’est le début de l’article 26 de la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme de 1948 en bambara, notre langue locale.
Je vais vous le dire en français : « L'éducation doit viser au plein épanouissement de la personnalité humaine et au renforcement du respect des droits de l'homme et des libertés fondamentales. »
I have a story for you -- when I began a year ago with School Girls Unite, we were planning our benefit concert in Downtown Silver Spring. I believed this was unique because of the originality and energy of the group. Everyone spoke with excitement and passion behind every word. Understandably, I wanted to be a part of it. I felt great about what I was doing even though it wasn’t a cause that I necessarily would have chosen.
“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
“The first step toward greater justice is to transform that culture of female docility and subservience, so that women themselves become more assertive and demanding …The single most important way to encourage women and girls to stand up for their rights is education, and we can do far more to promote universal education in poor countries…women need to join the human rights revolution themselves.”
~ Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn,
HALF THE SKY: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
“If you ever thought you’re too small to make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
~ Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop