Girls can change their societies when they speak up

Sunday 8 March 2020


Sometimes, it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what your name is, or where you are in this world. Sometimes, all you want is to be able to tell the world something you always wanted to say.

I write today,* on International Women’s Day, to say something on behalf of my friends, on behalf of girls in my community, on behalf of myself. 

First, it’s a thank you to the first woman I met, who gave me all the love she could as she raised me. The mother who took my hand as I took my first steps in this life. The mother who stayed up all night to look after her sick daughter.

It is also a thank you to the doctor who treated me, the lawyer who defended me, and the seamstress who knitted my jacket. Thank you to the teacher who taught me how to read and write. I always looked up to her.

I cannot imagine a society without mothers, doctors, teachers, lawyers.

But while you read these words, there are girls out there who never get to express their views or have a say in how their life should look like. There are girls who are being abused, hit and have their rights, no matter how simple those rights are, taken away from them.

I always wondered why silencing girls or discounting their achievements is a mission for some. Why is it always “Whatever you do, you will always be a girl, incapable of doing what a man does”?

We don’t want a society like this, we don’t want an environment that is unfavourable to girls. A girl can do far better than being told to stay at home or having to implore the neighbours to talk to her parents into allowing her to go to school. Many times I have seen this happen, and the answer would always be, “She will eventually be in her husband’s house”.

I never understood this discrimination between men and women, boys and girls. Do we want a society where girls have no education and are forced to get married when they are young? Equality should not be an insult; on the contrary, it is a sign that a society is functioning with strong foundations.

On this day, we renew our calls for women’s rights, for human rights. Today, there should be no woman or man distanced from their right to be a partner in the shaping of our society.

A society is never the same without girls contributing to it.

Girls are here to raise our voice, demand our rights, and create a lasting change.

This blog was written by Raghad Intabi, a 16-year-old girl living in Lebanon. Raghad wants to see a world where girls are treated more fairly.

Raghad is one of the adolescents taking part in a participatory research, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.