Defending Girls’ and Young Women’s Rights: What’s the take?

 What kind of work do you do? I am an advocate of Girls’ Rights; I work to empower Gender-Based Violence survivors to champion for change in their communities so that they can be part of policy and political debates inclusive of decision making.

Petrider Paul

What inspires your work? My inspiration in doing my work is the young girls that always look up to me, my fellow young women, friends, colleagues and family who support me to keep doing what I am do. The fact that I can inspire someone to make change in their communities is also a great inspiration.

What are some of the rights that girls and young women have that are under threat? With girls and young women facing such challenges as gender stereotypes, domestic violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation their freedom of expression and freedom from any form of violence is under threat.

How can we ensure these rights are upheld? By advocating for girls/women’s rights with everyone involved including men and women, national and international leaders, traditional leaders and religious leaders. Involving women and girls alone includes only half of the equation which can only be completed when everyone is on board.

What should girls and young women do when their rights are in danger? Girls and young women need to speak out about injustices and rights violations. It’s through talking about the problems that we can find solutions. Girls and young women themselves need to work together to find solutions.

Are there mechanisms and systems to cater for this? Yes, there are developed each day. However, it’s individual action that really matters when it comes to this, for example, there is an international law that prohibits gender-based violence but still it’s happening. There is need to begin with individuals themselves taking that step to make a stand. It is better to have thousands of people advocating for girls’ and women’s rights in a community.

What are the main challenges that you face in the course of your work? A major challenge is that some people have certain misconceptions about my abilities based on the fact that I am a girl. I overcome this challenge by acknowledging the person that I am and tapping on my willpower and energy to do my work.

What should other young people interested in doing this kind of work do as a first step? I believe in the power of positive peer to peer influence that can have a massive impact to fellow young people; educate each other, for those in urban areas use the opportunities and resources there, take advantage of social media to inspire change, focus on something you are passionate about, work in partnership with other young people, the government and other members of your community.

Final remarks: “Society can find me modern and look at me badly but as long as I am doing something for my fellow girls I can see past this to a world where gender equality is possible.”

Petrider Paul is NAYD’s country officer, a member of the East African Youth Ambassadors Platform, a 2017 Akili Dada Fellow among others. The Girls’ Rights Defender has been recognized widely for her work in the community and continues to campaign for gender equality. You can tweet her via @PetriderPaul
(Picture courtesy of Petrider Paul)