"As Prime Minister, I could inspire other girls"
This International Day of the Girl, girls are taking over in business, media and politics. Maryam imagines what it would be like to take over the influential position of Prime Minister.
I work with the Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) at Plan International UK. My role as a YAP member is important as I am making change by campaigning for what’s right. As a woman of colour, I am proud and happy to be able to speak out. I like debating, and writing about issues that are important to me, like being a girl in a headscarf.
As Prime Minister for the day, I’d work on things that I don’t feel have been addressed as much by previous Prime Ministers. I’m most passionate about mental health, women's rights and climate change because those are the top things in the world that need to be addressed.
I would most look forward to being able to make a difference, to get to work straight away and get young people on board. That's what everybody votes you in for. They vote you in to make change and actually do something about these issues. Rather than saying it, just do it.
Good mental health
You have to have good mental health. You need to be happy. You need to be motivated, because if you have bad mental health, you're not going to feel like you can get out of bed in the morning.
During Sixth Form, I ran an after-school club called Artistic Minds. I worked with young people from Year 7 and Year 8, mainly girls, on projects to do with mental health and giving them confidence in public speaking. We made a self-care box with a note and chocolate inside, and around 100 people took one. I also helped them do assemblies in front of their peers and take part in sports activities.
As Prime Minister, in local areas, I would introduce small clubs like Artistic Minds. It’s the little things first that matter locally. Then you can bring it to the top, to everywhere in the country, around every local area, and it would help a lot of young people.
In the long term, I would like more people to be able to talk about mental health freely, no matter if you're a girl or a boy. Because boys' mental health matters as well and people sometimes don't consider that, as men are supposed to be the ‘strong ones’. But men have mental health too.
Protecting girls’ and women’s rights
In the past, women weren't allowed to have power. In this era we can be CEOs of businesses. However, there are a lot of things we still need, in order to fill in the gaps. For example, men can get paid more than women in the same roles. As Prime Minister, I would make sure all women and men have equal pay.
In certain religions or cultures, there is still a belief that women can't do this or that. Malala Yousafzai, was shot in the head because the Taliban wouldn't let her have an education. She was able to recover, and she's made every girl in the world see that they have a right to education, especially in developing countries where they were not able to.
I would make sure that anyone that has sexually harassed someone will be jailed or fined. If we don't have these punishments in place, then the perpetrators think they can do whatever they want.
I would also like to change the way that these men think. I would spread awareness about public sexual harassment in primary schools, from Year 5 or 6 onwards, so everyone is aware. We have to change the way that society is. We're women, we're people too and we don't deserve to be treated like that.
Addressing the climate crisis
My biggest hope at the end of my day as Prime Minister would be that everyone sees how forest fires and climate change are a problem, and how we can all help as much as possible.
Even after the heat waves this summer, I feel like we, and everyone in power, are not really taking it seriously. It's about addressing the situation and thinking, ‘This is urgent, this is actually really serious’, and we should do something straight away and not just leave it until it’s too late. By 2030, I would make sure everyone is using electric cars as it would be cheaper and better for the environment.
I think it's really important for women and girls to be leaders, because then young girls will look up to them and think, ‘They're doing it, so I could do that too’. It then carries on with generations of people. You're able to look up to them, and that makes you become more powerful.
Hopefully, as Prime Minister for the day I could inspire other girls. I’d like to bring in the next generation of girls to keep going within politics and campaigning, and tell them, “Don't give up, you can do it too, just as much as men can.”
Equal Power Now
Maryam was imagining being Prime Minister but in the UK, and all over the world, girls still face barriers when trying to participate in the political decisions that affect them.
This International Day of the Girl, girls like Maryam, are taking over in business, media, and politics and speaking out about the issues that matter to them.
Join in and call for girls’ voices to be recognised.
Email your MP to demand Equal Power Now.
Or find out more about International Day of the Girl.
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