Actress Freida Pinto recently traveled with Plan to Sierra Leone, where she witnessed the 'Because I am a Girl' initiative first-hand. Upon her return, she shared her experience in a video and a personal blog. "In Sierra Leone, the treacherous web of problems women face is endless — teenage pregnancies, forced or self-imposed prostitution to make ends meet, death during pregnancy, denial of education and the shocking female genital mutilation that is unfortunately embedded in tradition.There is no overnight solution to these problems, but here’s what I think — educate and empower a girl and she will help build a stronger community. Ask them what their dreams are and they will, in their extremely polished, polite and upper-crust English, tell you that they want to be accountants, doctors, journalists, politicians — but only after they say that they dream of a place that is rid of gender inequality. Hence, they treat education like a luxury and I was amazed by their command over the English language and oratory skills.Then what about boys? The boys are very important, for their support and encouragement makes the girls feel safer and less intimidated. Most of the girl empowerment groups formed by Plan have at least 15 to 25% boys, who make a stand against gender discrimination, encourage parents to send their daughters to school and try their best to be the voice for the voiceless.I was asked by a journalist in Sierra Leone, what hope can I give these girls to which I said: “To be very honest, these girls have given me hope.”Plan International USA is proud to welcome Freida on board as part of our global effort to change the lives of girls and strengthen communities.
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