From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world (UN Women).
By: Lauren Woodhouse, Girl Up Teen Advisor
The term human rights can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
For some, it’s the right to freely assert their beliefs without fear of government intimidation for others it means the right to marry and begin a family with whomever they want regardless of sex, class, or race.
For Girl Up and myself, it’s the integral right of a free, safe, and quality education- especially for girls.
The continuation of education beyond primary school has been proven to be the critical turning point in many young girls’ lives. Education is the principal factor between a life where a girl is forced into an early marriage, repeatedly raped, and forced to bear children or a life of economic freedom, choice, and liberation of thought.
In the United States, suppression of access to a quality education (whether that be sex education or political/civic education) is used as a tactic to keep people from comprehending that they are being exploited. The case is no different in countries that suppress freedom of knowledge from their citizens, especially young girls, and the problem should be addressed swiftly and powerfully everywhere.
It is important that when the problem seems too big and ask ourselves “like who am I to try to take on this whole problem?”, that we remember the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” All acts of resistance against human rights violations (no matter how seemingly big or small) starts with a single person.
It’s important on this Human Rights Day, December 10, that as young women we constantly make an active and intersectional effort to create change because every letter writing campaign we throw, every bake sale we host, and every protest we attend creates political movement in our communities, cities, countries, and even the world.
Lauren Woodhouse is a 2017-2018 Girl Up Teen Advisor from Portland, OR.