When I was 8 years old, I had to stand in front of the class to read aloud from a textbook. While the rest feared that moment, I was anticipating it, so having memorised the page before, I looked up from my textbook and started reciting the words to my classmates. For a few seconds, I felt joy and the idea of my teacher being proud of me made me stand taller. It did not take long though, before I felt the painful grip of my arm and the shock of my teacher’s hand slamming my face. I could never forget the pain and shame I felt, being humiliated by my teacher in front of the class. Of course, my good grades never showed on the rapport card! It angered me to see them give my privileges to the boys in my class, because they were the teacher’s sons. They were rewarded for being lazy and I was punished for being an eager learner.
Therefore, being a former Kurdish refugee from Iraq, I know first hand how hard it is for a young girl growing up in a male dominant society.
Gender Equality, the 3rd of the Millennium Goals, is every human’s fundamental right. It is a necessary condition for reducing poverty, sustainable development, decent work and social cohesion. Unfortunately, discrimination against women and girls is still the most consistent form of inequality.
Child marriage and arranged marriage are still happening all around the world. In many countries, young girls are to stay home and learn to cook and clean until they get married, where they go to the next level of cooking and cleaning combined with giving birth. While the guy goes out exploring his youth, the girl must learn to suppress her creativity and put her own needs aside. The word shame is fed to you from the moment you are born as a girl.
Living in The Netherlands, a country that topped the list of the UN Gender Equality, I was fortunate enough to have access to good education. But not every girl gets that opportunity. Although there have been some small improvements in developing countries, we still need to make a high jump in order to get close to having equal rights. Education is one of the most important factors of empowerment. Young women can have the power to change the future of women’s rights by having access to good education. This gives us the ability to create our own jobs, become good leaders and improve the lives of other girls. We need to reach out to other girls/women and learn and develop through interactions, empowerment trainings, training in women’s rights, sexual education, opening networks with hospitals, the police and radio hotlines. It is important to understand the power of social media interaction, a way for young girls to come together and create broad social bases. However, it is equally important to involve the community in the process of empowerment and emancipation of young women. If you want to change the situation, it is necessary to involve the surrounding.
We need to imagine equal rights and use creativity to achieve that right!
Lets get together and get the best out of the World Conference on Youth 2014!