We are thrilled to report that 2013 has been a banner year for Girl Determined!
We began working with adolescent girls in Burma in 2008, and seeing many girls' desire to learn and create options for their futures, we expanded and more formally organized in 2010. This past year we have been reaching over 1300 girls aged 12-17 through regular weekly leadership programs. Though our local community staff and the girls' parents can see how the program is changing the way girls see themselves and how they interact with their communities, this new sense of strength and value was publicly evident in October at Girl Determined's forum for the International Day of the Girl Child.
The UN designated International Day of the Girl Child last year and this was the first time that girls in Burma came together to claim their rights. Since March Girl Determined staff have been facilitating a process in which adolescent girls in our programs discuss what they want their futures to look like - how should the education system improve to better attend to girls needs?; how can family members support girls to achieve their potential?; how can the justice system really ensure that girls and women are safe from abuse? After months of discussion and participation with over 1000 girls, the first "Girls Statement on Rights in Burma" was released by all the girls in our Colorful Girls Circles program on October 18th.
Over 900 girls in Mandalay and 500 girls in Yangon joined together that day to publicly release the statement, discuss the future for girls and bring attention to the unique needs and potential of adolescent girls to shape society, politics and the economy. That day, adolescent girls handled questions from each other, from the press and managed all aspects of the day's program. One very experienced community development worker told me, "Wow! I have never seen anything like this! Girls in our country tend to be so shy and afraid, now they are speaking out and I thank you all for this. It can change our nation." Girl Determined is putting girls in the position to design their own futures and to create a future in which their sons and daughters do not face the same risks - extreme poverty, trafficking, labour exploitation, violence and school drop-put - that they now face.
Please continue to support these efforts. What the girls learn in Girl Determined programs last a lifetime and cannot be taken away from them. For 2014 we aim to reach 1800 girls every week and to launch a new tool - a 'By Girls, For-Girls' magazine to help galvanize this movement for change. Click in and help us get the magazine off the ground.
Thank you for being apart of this important and inspiring program.
Warm regards and love for the holidays,