At the moment I am part of The Girl Child Platform’s delegation at CSW, the United Nations’ yearly conference on the status of women, in New York. This week thousands of women and girl activists from all around the world are gathered to raise awareness about women’s and girls’ rights. We come from different cultures and backgrounds but what the majority of all the discussions has been about this week is the right to one’s own body.
This has made me wonder if my body has ever been mine at all. As a girl, no matter where in the world you live, you are being taught from day one that your body exists for someone else and that your body should be shaped, formed and used for others.
The first time my body was kidnapped I was 13. My body was changing, growing, and turning into – what my mother called – more feminine shapes. But for me my body was not turning more feminine because I did not look like the women on the magazines or in the movies. I did however understand that femininity was “good” and something that could offer me happiness according to society. So I began the strive for the magazine version of femininity. What it gave me was three years of depression and countless of hours at the hospital.
The second time my body was taken away from me I was 17. I had never had sex before and was not really interested in it either, but the boy I was seeing was. At the time I did not understand what had happened. I did not even reflect over the fact that someone had taken my body and done whatever he wanted with it, because society had never made me feel that I had the right over my own body in the first place. It took years of therapy to achieve the understanding that my body actually could be mine.
My story is not unique, it is a story that girls today are more likely to tell than not. The fact that most girls today are taught that their bodies are not for them, and that they have no say in how their bodies should look like or how they should be used, is a massive violation of basic human rights. The RIGHT to one’s own body. This prohibits girls to reach their full potential and to bring out the power that is inside every girl. Societal kidnapping of girls’ bodies leads to gender inequality, and so much effort and time is need to take back what should have always been ours, OUR BODIES.
I believe the only way this struggle will end is when states take their responsibility and invite girls to the decision making table. In most seminars and discussions here at CSW decision makers talk about girls, but not with us. Policies and resolutions will never be able to address and capture the true issues if the ones who carry the experiences are never invited to speak and to be listened to. The Girl Child Platform is here just because of this, to make sure that girls are included. We represent over 30 organizations and I believe that through this partnership our voice is strengthened, and by continued cooperation we will be able to smash patriarchy and put ourselves at the decision making table.
What do you say, how do we get decision makers to include girls?
Written by Emma Blomdahl, The Girl Child Platform and Föreningen Tillsammans (The Togetherness Association)