I am a girl who has not spent one single day of my life being thirsty. If I feel a bit parched, I go to the fridge and crack open a drink or put a glass under my tap and fill it up with water. I sometimes have several cups of water, tea and coffee on the go at one time. I never really think of this as being lucky. But, more than 3.5 million people die from water sanitation or hygiene related causes each year (WHO) and nearly 800 million people (1 in 9 people) don’t have access to safe water. Women and girls are walking miles at a time to gather water from streams and ponds – full of water-borne disease that is making them and their families sick.
Being a girl has never felt like a burden to me. I was never forced to do certain things in my household or in the community just because I was a girl. But in many countries girls are still considered inferior to boys. Did you know that girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys? Just because they’re girls.
Being a girl has never held me back from getting an education. To me, education is power and I have years of it under my belt. But, for many girls around the world they’re more likely to miss out on education compared with boys. Globally, 66 million girls do not access education and less than half of girls in developing countries complete primary school.
I have had the odd fleeting moment of feeling unsafe but I jump on my mobile phone or walk on the other side of the street. I haven’t lost sleep over fear of my safety. I go for jogs when the sun is going down and feel freedom, not fear. But, for many girls they live in constant fear of being a child trafficking victim, being taken off the streets when they are walking in their town. Of every three victims, two are girls. Two MILLION girls are subjected to prostitution in the global sex trade (UNICEF). And one in every four girls are sexually abused by the age of 18 (PLAN INTERNATIONAL).
When I get my period, it’s simple, I go to the shops and buy what I need. Or if I am desperate I shovel my hand through my jam packed expensive handbag and grab some tampons from the bottom. I don’t worry about the cost of them or how hygienic they are. But, for many girls they can’t leave their home when they have their period. They can’t to go to school and they have NO devices to help manage their period. Girls are forced to use unsanitary materials like old rags, husks, dried leaves, grass, ash, sand or newspapers because they don’t have access to affordable, hygienic and safe products.
I play with my kids in our back yard, at the beach or at one of the half a dozen parks that are within walking distance from our home. The home where they have their own bedroom, clothes, toys and a pantry with an endless supply of food for their little tummies. But for many girls they have no safe place to call home. They have no roof over their heads or even a bed to lay their tired body down on at the end of the day. 70% of the world’s poor are women (OXFAM).
I decided when I was ready to get married. I married a man who respected me and loves me whole heartedly. But for many girls they are forced to marry as young as 13 and to men that are more than twice their age. When a girl is married young she is more likely to experience violence, physical and sexual abuse and poor sexual and reproductive health. Pregnancy is the biggest killer of girls aged between 15-19. Every 60 seconds a teenage girl dies from pregnancy birth complications. (PLAN INTERNATIONAL)
Here is an incredibly heartbreaking and uplifting story about Lamana, we urge you to watch…
I am a girl who has been born somewhere that allows me freedom, choices, safety, equal rights and everything in between. I am lucky. I often take all of this for granted. My life is my normal. A comfortable, healthy and happy normal. One that is worlds apart from many other girls around the world.
Us girls here at Show + Tell have decided to join with Etsy and Plan International for their campaign ‘Because I am a Girl’ to try and increase awareness and funds to help girls around the world be simply that…GIRLS! We want to help break down the barriers and change the world for girls. We want girls everywhere to have the same opportunities and safety as boys. Because GIRLS’ RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS and WE need to make change happen. We need to make it happen now.
Please STOP…get involved and help us change the world…because YOU are a girl!
1. If you are already a seller on Etsy join the #makeforgood campaign to help provide a silver living for girls living in poverty.
2. Buy from Etsy TODAY and know that 20% of the amount you pay will be directly donated to the cause.
3. Donate directly at becauseiamagirl.com.au