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Girls' Lives

"All children have the right to education. But many girls are taken out of school in the early grades or do not go to school at all."
UNICEF, Voices of Youth

The Girls’ Lives series includes quotes from girls who participated in the web forum sponsored by the Working Group on Girls of the NGO Committee of UNICEF and UNICEF Voices of Youth Project which took place in 2000. During the project, teachers, staff, and community workers helped translate, fax and type for girls from tribal communities, remote villages and halfway houses.

Jasmine, age 13, Bangladesh
"... I have an older sister who was married off at the age of 15. She is pregnant and yet has to work in a garment factory from very early in the morning to very late at night because her husband refuses to work. She had to give 20,000 takas plus some jewelry to her husband’s family so that she could get married, but she is treated no better than a servant. She also has to do most of the housework such as cooking and cleaning whenever she is not working.

Most parents don’t believe in giving their daughters an education because they say that it is just a waste of time and money. I am in class 5 and I will have to leave now because school is only free up to this year and I cannot afford to continue. My father will try to help my brother, but he cannot help me. My dream is to become a doctor. But dreams remain dreams.

I also want to have some free time to think and play and just be a child. But this is not possible because I have to work all day in my own house and also in other people’s. I help my family by teaching six students every evening for one and a half hours.

The government should make education free until the end of high school. This will give us the opportunity to get ahead in life... I hope someone comes forward to help as soon as possible before my education is stopped."

Anonymous, age 17, Republic of Korea
"... Before dinner, fathers and brothers ask girls and women to set the table; after dinner, they request them to wash the dishes. The only reason they do this is because traditionally men don’t help in domestic affairs because they make money for a living.

Now time and society has changed and women also make money, realizing their dreams. But they are still asked to do all of the housework. So I think the men should change their high attitude. We have reached the 21st century and the ideas should match it."

Adwoa, age 15, Ghana
"... I sell doughnuts for a living and have been living with a relative since the age of 10. I never went to school. I had to rise up early to sell doughnuts before going back home for my breakfast. When I was 13 years, a driver’s mate showed interest in me and one day I became pregnant. He however did not accept responsibility. So now I take care of the child and myself with the sales from doughnuts."