Sharing personal stories, celebrating the International Day of the Girl
Every year, on October 11, UNICEF marks the International Day of the Girl, promoting gender equality and equal opportunities for girls around the world. This year, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we aim to celebrate it online and reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls. Here is Dominique's story.
“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
We, girls, harbour a great fire within us which social injustice and the increasing inequity of the world adds fuel to. Yet, we are hopeful, we have the belief that change is right around the corner, that we are gifted to transform our society into an inclusive, fair and humane community. Before dwelling any further, I must explain that by the term girl, I am referring to anyone born this way or who chose to identify as a woman.
My article will be divided into two parts, in the first I will be explaining the risks you are exposed to by walking in the skin of a girl and then I will remind each and everyone of you, dear readers, of the strength we carry deep inside of us, which allows my peers and I to fight for equality.
The 2030 Agenda sets a high bar for Romania when it comes to Goal 5: Gender Equality and Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities. We have ten years to dispose ourselves of the stereotypes we nurture.
Unfortunately, data paints a gruesome picture of our country, as 55% of citizens believe rape is justifyable, 45% consider men to be more capable of ruling and 65% state women should listen to their male partners. We are raising our daughters in fear of being attacked, groped, humiliated or questioned. We take away their freedom because there is so much hatred towards their gender. We take away their voice, because, suddenly, reality is too taboo to be talked about. Experiences are swept under the rug, because you can’t stand hearing the suffering caused or because the perpetrator was too important to have his authority and account inquired. Everyday, I cover up, I come home before dark, I keep talking to my friend on the phone when I enter cars, I don’t run alone, I don’t roam the streets alone and I still get harrassed. When I speak up, I am interrupted and called names for the “audacity” I had to raise my tone against inequality, against the abnormal normal we have created.
I remember I am the daughter of suffragettes, I am the daughter of Eleanor Roosevelt, Sofia Nădejde, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Maria Cuțarida and Ruth Bader Gainsburg, Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Benazir Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai. It would be a pity to not use my voice when they fought so hard for me to have one.
One of the effective ways to prevent misogyny is to teach about feminism and, of course, equality. All you need is yourself, determination and maybe a projector.
Walk from class to class in your school and raise awareness on the topic. Make informative posters with breathtaking graphics that catch the eye, start an Instagram page, keep yourself hungry for information. In order to make people riot against injustice, you must not sugarcoat the statistics you present, let them be raw and painful. Let them be a wake up call.
I am very keen on ending domestic violence and its effects, that is why, I helped by my friends, I’ve created a podcast called Peda Talks in which we address the issue of healing after a toxic relationship, we approach the signs of leaving a harmful bond and we talk about how we can get help after harassment. The purpose of the initiative is to shed a light on this matter which affects more and more people every year. Although it is a major concern, there are little measures taken by the state to ensure the well being of its citizens.
Another way to get involved in the change movement is to join or partner with an association that advocates for gender equality, like Girl Up Romania, Filia Center and ALEG Romania. Moreover, email psychologists, public persons or reporters willing to spread the message of social justice.
You will face hardships, you will be turned down, but do not lose hope. Think of all the girls who need your projects, think of why you started in the first place and let the rage and disappointment motivate you to do even greater things.
So, let’s recap the recipe for writing your own story.
- Know your worth!
- Find the fuel that keeps your passion burning - that one injustice you can’t utterly stand.
- Choose your path.
- Make a statement. Here is mine.
Hi! I am Dominique, I am 17 years old and I am fighting for destigmatizing mental health and preventing violence against women. What are you fighting for?
About Dominique (17 ani)
I savor early mornings, tough mysteries, and solutions that require great thinking. I believe in humans, in our power to do good and in compassion. I fight for social inclusion, preventing domestic violence, and destigmatizing mental health.
Stimulated by the hope that a handful of teenagers can change the community, I strive to inspire my colleagues to be involved and contribute to building a sustainable and safe future for us all.