Girl Rising Suma Kanuri

girl rising Stories

Top Left- Mariama from Sierra Leone, Top Right- Suma from Nepal, Bottom- Amina from Afghanistan

Three girls, three stories

Mariama is a teenager from Sierra Leone. In her community, it's unusual for a girl to share her voice. Mariama had a radio show, which started controversy so her stepfather tried to prohibit her from doing it again. However, she fought back and got on the air again.

Suma is a girl from Nepal who has been not only robbed of her education, but of her childhood as a whole. Growing up in a poor family, Suma was forced to work as a kamalari (a laborer who is bonded to a master). She went through 3 masters, for where she worked for 18-19 hours a day, ate scraps, and got abused. Even with laws against child labors, Suma only got freed with the help and dedication of a woman who was committed to freeing her.

Amina is a child bride in Afghanistan. She was married off at 11 years old for $5000, which was then used to buy a car for her brother. Before her marriage, she had been working from the age of 3, getting icy water, taking care of her siblings, washing the clothes and dishes, and serving. Amina was one of the luckier ones in the way that she received an education for a few years.*

GIRLS ARE NOT A PRIORITY. THEY WORK SO BOYS CAN STUDY. THEY ARE MARRIED OFF SO THE FAMILY CAN BUY THINGS USING THEIR DOWRY. MOTHERS CRY WHEN THEY SEE THEY'RE HAVING A GIRL. HOW DO THESE GIRLS EVER STAND A CHANCE?

Girls are silenced by society. In cultures like Amina's, they are physically silenced. In Amina's culture, once a girl is considered a woman, they must wear a shawl. This shawl has masked and muted many. Other cultures, like Mariama's, look down upon on girls who have something to say. When they do speak out, it makes a fuss.

Girls work from young ages. They do all sorts of jobs, from household duties to hard labor.

There are many girls around the world like Suma and Amina- ones who have to work to help support their family, or are married off very young as way to get rid of their "burden". These girls are sent off to work as toddlers. All the money they make goes back to the family and the fathers spend it in a way they see fit, whether it benefits the daughters or not. This practice of working, especially as kamalaris, has been going on for generations. According to another Nepalese teenager, Lila, both her mother and grandmother were kalamaris, so it is something that has been passed down. This cruel exercise brings in only $4.50 a year, and the girls see none of that money. It is normal because "things were intended this way," according to Amina, who acknowledges that a lifetime of servitude is accepted for women in her society.

THERE ARE MANY CULTURES THAT BELIEVE THAT BOYS ARE BETTER THAN GIRLS- THAT THEY ARE WORTH MORE, ENTITLED TO MORE. GIRLS ARE SEEN AS A BURDEN, OR A GOOD THAT CAN BE SOLD. IT'S BELIEFS AND VALUES LIKE THESE THAT HINDER EDUCATION FOR GIRLS.

With these girls being forced to work, they don't have the time to get an education. In the rare cases that they do get schooling, it's either for only a couple years or from the pity of master, both of which are uncommon. Instead of learning to read and write, they are taking care of other children and animals, doing hard labor, serving, and doing household chores. Along with this work, these girls get abused, both physically and verbally. The masters have no sympathy, feeding the girls scraps and making them sleep outside. The belief that girls are lesser coupled with the fact that they need to work to provide is what cuts out the possibility of education. It is seen as not necessary, especially because of the life of servitude they are expected to lead. However, these girls have a desire to learn and it is unfair that they are missing out on an opportunity simply because of their gender.

* Something that really stood out to me in Amina's story was when she started talking about her privilege. Here's a girl who was sold to her husband and had a child at 13, talking about how she is so privileged, because she got to learn how to read and write. This is something that so many of us take for granted, since it is so everyday for us. Amina wants to learn, and instead she is forced into working. However, she is still grateful for the opportunity she did have. That's just something that really stuck out to me and reminded me how truly privileged we are.

Citations- Facts and Pictures

Care International. Care International UK, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

CTO Action. CTO Action, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017

The News. The News Blog, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

Assets Publishing Service UK, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

"Child Labor in Vietnam." Borgen Project. Borgen Project, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

Previews 1234. Stock Photo, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

Getty Images. Getty Images, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

"Breaking the Cycle of Slavery: 3 Generations of Kamalari Women." Generations of Kamalari Women - Plan International Canada. Plan Canada, n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

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