October 11, 2012 marked the first annual International Girl’s Day. It also marked the global campaign of Plan International’s Because I am A Girl campaign (BIAAG). Here in West Africa we celebrated the International Girl’s Day with ceremonies, speeches, and activities that bring awareness to the plight of girls throughout the world. In Burkina Faso I was able to participate in the Plan International BIAAG launch campaign and the United Nations creation of International Girl’s Day. The ceremonies took place simultaneously in a rural town 174km north of Ouagadougou. There were marches by both girls and boys protesting against forced marriage, female circumcision, violence against girls and women, and unwanted pregnancies. Four ministers were present the Ministry of Education, Agriculture, Secondary Education, and the Promotion of girls and women. The United Nations UNICEF program spoke highly of the accomplishments of girls and women through the years, but noted that there are still long ways to go. The country director of Plan Burkina gave a speech that was both nostalgic and inspirational. However, the youngest and most unlikely to give a speech was a teenage girl named Rachidatou. She delivered a powerful speech that spoke to the feelings, issues, and concerns of girls today. She gave thanks for all that has been done, but reminded us that there is still much struggle ahead of us. She warned us against “forgetting” boys along the way as they are very much of the plight of girls.
The ceremony ended with the audience giving donations to support scholarships and tuition for girls of disadvantaged families. Lastly 60 bikes were given to girls that had to travel 5 or more kilometers to attend school. Under the October heat of Burkina Faso, we all felt warmed by not only the sun rays, but by the hard work many development agencies such as Plan International is doing to bring awareness to the state of girls around the world.
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Tagged access, bikes, boys, Burkina Faso, development, education, girls, government, plan international, quality, sch, scholarships, unicef, united nations, violance