Definition of girl: a female child.
Growing up over the years, I like many other girls have had the comment “But your just a girl” thrown at me in all sorts of scenarios.
Playing a sport.
Climbing a tree.
Lifting something heavy.
You understand where I am going…
The term girl has become almost a derogatory term used to describe a person when they do something that isn't stereotypically them. For example in this instance, play football, get muddy, liking science.
Growing up in an all girls school, luckily for me this term wasn't something that I heard very often. If I wanted to play football, I could play football. If I wanted to be a scientist, well there was no reason I couldn't be. And for this I am very grateful. This however, didn’t mean that I wasn't told these things in the outside world.
Sadly across the world, the gender of a person is holding them back.
Underaged and forced marriage.
And much more.
All problems, faced by girls across the world. In numbers you wouldn't believe:
41,000 girls are forced into marriage every day.
70,000 girls die in labour every year because there bodies aren't ready for childbirth.
15 million girls will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school.
Two-thirds of the illiterate people in the world are female.
In the UK, one-in-ten girls have been unable to afford sanitary wear.
66 per cent of girls in the UK have experienced unwanted sexual attention or unwanted sexual or physical contact in a public place.
*all stats can be found on the Plan UK website*
These numbers are shocking, but what is important to remember that behind every statistic is a human being, a person struggling with this problem. Whilst some of these issues are going to take time, resources and a lot of education to fix there are things that we can begin to do right here and now.
Look up your local Red Box project or similar scheme near you. These schemes work at tackling period poverty by providing those struggling with the cost of sanitary products.
Donate to them, or even set up a similar scheme in your own school or work place. It isn't difficult, get a small box or basket in the bathrooms, and ask people to donate sanitary products to it.
Recently I joined Plan International UK as a member of the youth advisory panel. I had my first meeting over the weekend, and met the other amazing young people that I will be working with bringing problems like those I have spoken about and more. Over the next year we will be working on campaigns on these areas, bringing to light the problems that girls across the world face, and campaigning for change. You too can campaign for change there are many organisations like plan that you can get involved with, or you and some friends could even set up something in school or a local youth group. Have a google at some organisations for inspiration.
Whilst you cannot change the world around you over night, every little step in the right direction makes a change. Perhaps you could ask to run an assembly, start up a conversation or even just share a tweet sharing these issues with the world. Every little bit of education you can give, share or take in will help make a difference to change attitudes and behaviours of those around you.
And next time someone tells you “But your just a girl”
Take pride in telling them “ Yes, I am girl.”
Because, girls, you should never be afraid of being who you are.