Talking to and hearing from girls is so important!
In this report, we’d like to give you a brief update on the outcomes of the regional girls’ forums in November. Across the country we saw thousands of girls assemble in 13 regional centers to discuss and share ideas with girls from other communities. These annual forums provide a unique opportunity for girls from different villages, schools, and backgrounds to meet and work together to develop group action plans to address an issue that holds them back.
During these conferences, girls were given the opportunity to self-organize into discussion groups based on their individual interests. They could choose from topics like education, health and sanitation, girls’ expression, and safety and security, and then work with other girls to identify real, day-to-day challenges they face related to these topics. Together they brainstormed ways they could tackle these challenges, and devised action plans in order to inspire the changes they would like to see. In the spirit of celebrating what girls can do, girls were also able to share a host of talents and ideas through performances of songs, skits, debates, dances, and panel discussions with alumnae from Girl Determined programming.
These forums build on a Girl Determined curricular focus of girls identifying future goals for themselves and their community. One girl from the Yangon Regional Forum remarked, “we each have our own ambitions and goals, and while it might be difficult to get there, if we work bit-by-bit to reach it, we will succeed.” Collective organizing among girls across communities can be difficult, and girls are almost never encouraged to take on leadership roles or to think creatively. We are eager to see how girls’ ideas transform into actions, with our guidance and support.
The solutions and action plans resulting from the forums may range in approach and scope, but all have the common root of being developed by girls who are challenging gendered expectations and pushing for what they need to create safe, supportive environments for their own growth and development. In Kachin State, girls are organizing across communities to produce artwork about reducing violence against girls. And in a rural, hilly area of Shan State girls are working together to clean clogged waterways and plant trees to limit negative effects of flooding on rural women farmers. We look forward to witnessing girls embark on grassroots campaigns through the implementation of these action plans in the coming months, and then sharing the results with you!
As always, thank you for your continued support. It is our pleasure to have you with us to ensure girls all across Myanmar are determining their own futures. Let's keep this momentum going into the new year!
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