Every year the world comes together on October 11th for International Day of the Girl (IDG). This year for IDG, Let Girls Lead is thrilled to share this blog by Tisungeni, an amazing 13 year old girl leader from Malawi. Tisungeni recently attended the UN General Assembly as part of Let Girls Lead's delegation, where she spoke about girls' right to an education with Ambassador Cathy Russell (pictured below), Chelsea Clinton, Mabel van Oranje, and other global leaders.
Girl Leader, Tisungeni's, Blog:
My name is Tisungeni, and I am 13 years old and from Malawi. I have never traveled outside of my country, and I am very excited to be in New York for UNGA. I especially enjoyed meeting girls from other countries and learning about our shared problems as girls. But we also share a belief that decisions about girls should not be made without girls, and thanks to Let Girls Lead, I know now that I have a voice and I know how to make it heard.
Girls like me around the world should have the right to remain in school and to access health care services. And we should not have to live in fear of being forced into marriage. In Malawi, too many girls have to leave school because of child marriage. Girls my age are having babies and living in poverty because we are not valued. Only through education can we escape. Only through education can we make our own futures.
I tell world leaders that they need to invest in girls, girls' potential, and girls' education in order to end poverty for everyone.
I cannot wait to go home and share my UNGA experiences with girls in my community. I will tell them how girls like me were able to speak to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other high-level decision-makers, and how my voice and the messages I carried for them were heard. I will tell them that we must keep fighting for the right to stay in school, that we must go to secondary school and university, and that only this way will we not become dependent upon a man.
My message for girls my age in the U.S. is to learn more about Malawi and about what life is like for girls who live there. Maybe we can organize an exchange so that we can really get to know each other's lives, struggles and opportunities. Girls in the U.S. can also show girls in Malawi what education can do, and how far it can take them. I would also ask them to send us books!
I will bring home with me so many memories. The sights and sounds of New York, eating new foods - especially seafood - and meeting so many high-level people including my president, Princess Mabel of Holland, and Chelsea Clinton. I will remember this trip forever, and believe more than ever that girls have the power to change things for the better.
Let Girls Lead empowers girls and their allies to lead social change through advocacy, education, economic empowerment, storytelling and strategic partnerships, contributing to improved health, education and livelihoods for more than 7 million girls globally.