(Sydney, Australia). ChildFund’s programs have assisted over 41,000 children in gaining access to educationin some of the most disadvantaged countries. On International Day of the Girl Child, ChildFund is calling on Australians to support their new campaign to increase the number of girls accessing a vital education.
The campaign features the voices of eight girls that assisted by ChildFund and their local partners across Southeast Asia and highlights the definitive gender gap in these communities. The voices not only demonstrate the distinct challenges for young girls, they also reveal a unique sense of hope.
“I am proud to be a girl, even though girls are given less opportunities than men. I am bold enough to take the initiative and accomplish things on my own.” – Maikeo, 13, Laos
“Many people hesitate to speak their mind because they are worried about how other people will react. But if you stay silent, people might never abandon their outdated prejudices. Let’s speak up at the right time, in the right place.” – Hai, 17, Vietnam
“I want to become a businesswoman. Women can do business just like men – they just need to have the opportunity. I want to go on to higher education and study in the city. I am confident to live far away from my family to achieve my dreams. What boys can do, girls also can.” – Nita, 11, Cambodia
“Women can work, we don’t have to be dependent on others.” – Nhi, 11, Vietnam
“It is critical that adults protect children’s right to leisure, play, and culture for all of us as a collective. I am proud of myself to be able to do many things without fear of any obstacles. Both men and women have equal rights.” Manyta, 15-years-old, Laos
“In the present day and age, we should be able to get rid of inequality in our society.” – Aliya, 16, Laos
“I’ve never seen a female village chief. I want to see a woman become my village chief to show that women have the same capacity as men.” – Rasmei, 10, Cambodia
“When I grow up, I want to be a brave and strong person. I don’t want to ever look down on anyone because everyone is different.” – Chenda, 12, Cambodia
ChildFund also hopes to raise awareness of significant benefits girls and communities gain when education services are improved. ChildFund’s research shows: 59% fewer girls below the age of 17 would become pregnant if all girls had secondary education; every extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by up to 20%; and a child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five.
Chief Development Officer at ChildFund Australia Corinne Habel said, “With literacy rates continuing to fall across Southeast Asia and the Pacific it is critical that we continue the work we are doing to make a real impact on the future of girls and all children across our region.”
“The best way to alleviate poverty is via access to education and is a critical first step in strengthening developing communities.”
“The voices of the girls in this new campaign are so inspiring, they show real hope, and we appear to be seeing some change on the horizon. It’s exciting to see attitudes begin shift and girls dreaming big in terms of what could be, but it takes consistency and hard work to create this change, so we are calling on all Australians to help.”