I am one of the lucky ones.

Every morning, I wake up excited to attend another day of school. At school, I have an opportunity to learn new things, enjoy my lessons and participate in new activities. We have all heard the phrase, “If you educate a girl, you educate a nation.” Globally, it is estimated that 66 million girls will not have access to an education. Unlike many girls, I have the ability to access my right to education, choose who I marry and will have as many children as I desire.

I am one of the lucky ones.

Before I was born, my grandmother took a stand for me and future generations. She rejected the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and refused to let her daughter, my mother, go through the practice. FGM is the deliberate mutilation of the genitalia of women and girls for non-medical reasons. This practice has life-long physical, emotional and psychological effects on women and girls. FGM was practiced in my family for generations. When my grandmother was strong enough to say ‘no’ it stopped. Globally, 140 million women and girls who are subjected to this practice are not as fortunate. Women like Leyla Hussein and Nimko Ali have been fighting to end FGM in the United Kingdom and empower young women and girls to say ‘no’ to FGM. We need more global leaders, individuals, organizations, communities and governments to say ‘no’ alongside of them.

Some additional facts:

  • One in ten girls (under 20) has experienced some type of forced sexual abuse or assault
  • Every ten seconds, one girl will be subject to female genital mutilation.
  • Every two seconds, one girl will be forced into marriage.
  • Every second, women and girls are being abused, beaten, raped and groped.

The violence must stop.

As activists, leaders, governments and organizations we can not only talk about the statistics. We must take action for women and girls whose rights are violated. Systems of patriarchy and misogyny must not be allowed to continue. It is not acceptable for some men to act as if it is their right to beat their wives, rape their sisters and force their daughters into marriage.

I want to see real change.

Over the next 18 months, global leaders will draft a development framework for the next fifteen years. In the post-2015 agenda, I want leaders to focus on breaking the cycle of gender-based violence. In order to accomplish this, we must educate girls, empower young women to know their rights and give every girl a chance to raise her voice.

I am one of 3.5 billion women and girls in the world.

Our voices matter.

Cover Photo Credit: DFID, UK, Flickr Creative Commons

Join the Conversation

#ShowYourSelfie – Now is the time for young people to have their say! What do you think is a priority for the Post-2015 Agenda? Share your views and publish a selfie to join this global visual petition run by The Global Poverty Project and UNFPA. showyourselfie.org

September 21st-26th Girls’ Globe will be in New York for the 2014 UN General Assembly. We are partnering with FHI360, Johnson & Johnson, and Women Deliver in support of Every Woman Every Child to amplify the global conversation on the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda. Follow #MDG456Live, raise your voice and join the conversation to advance women’s and children’s health. Sign up for the Daily Delivery to receive live crowd-sourced coverage of these issues directly to your inbox.

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