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Girls speak out: ‘I want to be a lawyer, to take action for pregnant children’

On International Day of the Girl, eight teenagers from around the world were profiled by The Guardian to discuss in their own words the issues they face, from child marriage to the battle to stay in school—including Emelin from Guatemala, a participant from Let Girls Lead (a project of PHI’s Rise Up).

On International Day of the Girl, eight teenagers from around the world talk about the issues they face, from child marriage to the battle to stay in education.

Elba and Emelin, GuatemalaEmelin, 15, Guatemala

I live in the rural highlands of Guatemala in a mostly indigenous community. Life for me and other adolescent girls is hard, and we are determined to make things better.

Our biggest problems are early pregnancy and childbirth, sexual violence, lack of access to education, and access to healthcare. Approximately half of adolescent girls here have their first baby before the age of 18, and only about 14% finish secondary school.

This is because girls are not valued or respected. So two years ago, my friend Elba and I together with other youth decided to do something to try to help girls like us. After attempting to meet our town’s mayor, we met with a Let Girls Lead mentor who taught us about self-esteem, human rights, community organising and public speaking.

We used our new skills to make an impression on our village. We were interviewed in the newspaper, and television and radio covered our campaign. Finally the mayor did pay attention to us, and soon signed into legislation a new municipal policy to fund education and healthcare efforts for girls.

We adolescents are important because we are the present and future of our country. We have a voice and will use it, because the rights of indigenous women and girls are also human rights.

Based on these experiences, I would like to become a leader of my country when I grow up, so that I can help make a difference for girls in Guatemala.


Read the full article with profiles of girl leaders at The Guardian.

Originally published by The Guardian

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