When the Millennium Development Goals were implemented in 2000, Naw Cynthia was an adolescent girl striving for an education with little support from her family, her country of Myanmar, or the world at large. Today, as global leaders recently met for the United Nations General Assembly to establish new goals for 2016, the face of this agenda is an adolescent girl – a girl in school, safe, not married off, and able to aspire to follow her dreams.
The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th is ‘the power of the adolescent girl’. Global communities are being called upon to commit to critical investments in quality education, skills, training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership.
The world recently witnessed the courage and power of an adolescent Pakistani girl, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafazi, who fought the Taliban for her right to attend school. Malala’s story, detailed in her book I Am Malala and her upcoming documentary, He Named Me Malala, is an inspiration for girls all around the world.
However, it is not an easy journey for adolescent girls. Naw Cynthia was one of five children with an absent father and a mother driven to beat her children. As a young girl, Naw Cynthia was sexually abused by her neighbor. These abuses seriously impacted her confidence. Yet she was determined to rise above her childhood and stand tall. She knew that a good education would be her liberator.
Now a well-educated and respected proponent of quality education and literacy in Myanmar, Naw Cynthia is working to give today’s adolescent girls a voice and to encourage them to pursue their dreams through education.
Naw Cynthia readily shares her story with adolescent girls because she wants them to be strong and to not compromise their dreams. She tells Burmese girls “You are NOT weak. You are strong. Do NOT let others look down on you. And do NOT tolerate any form of abuse or harassment.”
Like so many women who juggle multiple responsibilities, Naw Cynthia worries she is not a good mother or a good leader or a good wife. We believe she is an outstanding role model for girls and boys. Naw Cynthia will teach her son to treat girls with respect and to value their contribution in the world.
Girls need inspirational role models like Naw Cynthia and Malala. With approval from Malala Foundation, Educational Empowerment is translating I Am Malala into Burmese. Soon it will be published in Yangon so Burmese girls can read Malala’s powerful story. Educational Empowerment is proud to be an advocate for girls’ rights at this pivotal time in history. Girls need to know they have rights and how to access them. Let’s all celebrate the power of the adolescent girl.
To take immediate action:
- Join Girls Globe conversation on Twitter @GirlsGlobe
- Become a champion for girls’ and women’s rights.
- Donate to Educational Empowerment at donate.
- Let your voices be heard for girls worldwide!
Educational Empowerment was created by women and for women and girls. EE promotes literacy and education for children, families and communities severely affected by poverty and injustice in Myanmar. By empowering women and girls through education, we position women in Myanmar to attain their equal rights.