Girls in a Buddhist nunnery end discrimination
“If [my daughter] was not involved in Girl Determined’s activities over the past year, I would have asked her to leave school and work in the factory for 60,000 kyats per month ($70 USD).” - mother of a 14-year-old girl
During the 2012-13 school year Girl Determined embarked on a pilot project with five communities in the outskirts of Yangon - Myanmar/Burma’s largest city. Having been working in these areas for over three years, we could see that the high drop-out rates of girls from school comes from a complex set of social and financial reasons. The family’s economic situation is not the exclusive determining factor. Girls often leave school without pressure from their parents as they seek to achieve recognition and value in the eyes of the parents. We thought, “well, how can we get parents to see the true worth of their determined daughters? Will giving girls the opportunity to actively participate in the public sphere shape the attitudes and perceptions of girls' worth held by community leaders, teachers and family members?”
Girl-led Campaigns were born. Through a series of workshops, 250 girls aged 12-15 learned the basics of creating social change by identifying an issue of shared concern, developing an awareness or change campaign strategy and carrying out their campaign.
In February, March and April, the girls developed brochures, canvassed the streets, wrote poems, talk to local officials, sold clean foods in the market, made and distributed recylced paper bags and picked up lots of garbage!
These were their campaign mottos.
- "Stop sexually harrassing girls and women on the streets and in the Bus!"
- "Stop using so many plastic bags!
- "End Ethnic Discrimination in Our Community"
- "Stop the use of chemical dyes in food."
- "Stop Littering!"
What was the impact?
Not only did adolescent girls gain confidence and skills in planning and budgeting, they began to see that, indeed, they could have an effect on their surroundings and, as such, on their own futures. Girls began saw that they could help to create an environment that fosters their development.
Some of the parent’s attitudes towards their daughters changed dramatically over the year. These five communities had the benefits of our regularly weekly Colorful Girls Circles leadership program plus the Girl-led Campaigns. One mother described herself as “over the moon” that her daughter has these incredible opportunities.
In our discussions with parents at the end of the project, we found that:
1. Parents came to trust their daughters to make good decisions, lending towards a decrease in parents determination to control their daughters’ mobility.
2. Parents reported respect for, what they saw as their daughters’ new open-mindedness, increased maturity, ability to plan and draw up a budget, and confidence to speak to adults from participation in the campaign.
3. Parents were impressed by their daughters' skill in leading such an activity, which exhibited their daughters worth and value in a new way.
The staff and Advisory Board of Girl Determined are also “over the moon” by these impacts. Shifts in the way that parents view the value and worth of their daughters will lead to increased investment into their health, education and well-being.
Thank you for helping to make this happen! Please let us know what you think.
Visit our website to see hear more about our projects and see photos of the Girl-led Campaigns.
Stop street harassment!
Let's keep our enighborhood clean.