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Standing up for girls rights at UNGA

Standing up for girls' rights at UNGA

My name is Faridah and I am 19 years old. I live in Kampala, Uganda and I am a mother of two children.

This year I have been working with Plan International as a Champion for Change. In this position, I stand up for girls’ rights. I advocate for all girls to access education, health and to live a life free from violence. It is a hard job to do in Uganda, but it must be done. 

Delivering a message to world leaders

This week, I took my work to the United Nations in New York. I stood alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Emanuel Macron, and many other world leaders gathered in the room. 

I travelled there to tell them my story and to share one simple message: girls have rights to education and health services and this must not be forgotten.

Faridah with world leaders at UNGA
Faridah (left, in yellow) with world leaders at UNGA (C) 2018 Joel Rouse MoD Crown Copyright

When I was 14, like many girls my age, I fell pregnant, mainly because of the challenges girls face in my country. After the challenge of looking for medical attention, when I was 15, I gave birth. 

Then, following this, I tried to go back to school. Yet, despite going from school to school, I was denied a place in three schools in my community. This was wrong, because it is my right to have an education. Yet I did not give up hope.

I chose another path, I decided to become a Champion for Change because this did not only happen to me, but to many, many girls in my country.

I chose not to become a victim just because I was denied an education. I went to those schools who denied me. I went as a trainer and as a leader. 

I trained girls like me on how they can keep themselves in school and avoid the risks they face. I went there to prove that denying girls an education is not right. 

A call to take action

I was at the United Nations to advocate to world leaders just like I did to the teachers in my community. 

I called on them to stand with me, to act, because I cannot do this alone. It is a big task. 

I requested that leaders join me in my work to fight for the rights of all girls like me. I called on them to enforce legislation, to fill the gaps that hold girls back, and to invest in health and education. 

This is the only way we will deliver girls’ rights and realise the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Watch Faridah’s speech on UN Web TV (from 1 hour 34 mins) > 

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