I recently heard a good story from someone about becoming a dad. After his child was delivered the man was handed the tiny baby, as the midwife did so she quickly checked the sex, and proudly said 'here's your big strong boy.' The father wondered if the midwife had delivered a girl whether she would have said 'here's your big strong girl.' Right from the first seconds of being born we are judged and compartmentalized.
As a young woman living with a disability in a disaster-affected community Mavie faces even more challenges than most - Plan works hard to ensure that the rights and needs of children like Mavie are taken into account when planning for, and responding to, disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.As a young woman living with a disability in a disaster-affected community Mavie faces even more challenges than most - Plan works hard to ensure that the rights and needs of children like Mavie are taken into account when planning for, and responding to, disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.
FGM needs to be put on political centre stage. It needs the hashtags, the likes, the virals to bring the silent suffering of millions out in public discourse. Until such time 140 million girls and women will continue to be told that their genitals have been cut and mutilated to make them "clean" and "beautiful".
Today we Mark FGM Zero Tolerance Day - 6 February is a reminder that female genital mutilation is a global issue; it should not, however, be the only day we remember that. Sadly, every minute five girls undergo FGM. If it takes you a couple of minutes to read this blog, by the time you're finished 10 girls will or more have been irreversibly mutilated.
Ultimately the biggest problem with invoking that word is that it allows the media and us to pop her up onto the pedestal entitled "Woman Describing the Modern Female Experience" then return to our regular lives. We don't have to listen to other women with alternative experiences because, look, we've already got that one over there and see how much we idolise her?
Friday is the Day of the Girl - a moment to recognise that children, especially girls, despite their own enormous determination, often face insurmountable challenges to fulfilling their potential. They face wholly undeserved social, cultural and economic barriers. Although there are more obvious girl-specific barriers, in much of Africa malaria is one of the greatest single obstacles to the fulfilment of a girl's potential - and one of the cheapest to remedy. Not only is it one of the biggest killers of children under five (around half a million children a year in Africa), but for those who survive the bout of malaria, it can be recurrently debilitating for years afterwards.
Education is something that most of us in the UK take for granted. We go to nursery as toddlers, move through primary and secondary education before deciding whether college and university are for us. Most of us even grumble about it, complaining about homework, early mornings, the lack of free time. But if we didn't have this opportunity, our lives would be completely different.