Yulisa: We need action on girls’ rights, not words

Posted by Yulisa, Plan youth delegate from Dominican Republic

Yulisa is speaking out for girls’ rights at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Yulisa, 16, from the Dominican Republic is one of 5 Plan-supported youth delegates speaking out for girls’ rights at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting this week. Here she explains what has inspired her to push for change.

11 March 2015: I have been in New York (at the CSW-59) for a week, and have felt very happy and proud of myself. In this week I feel that I have learned, interchanged ideas, met people from different countries and, most important, understood different realities in the world and what other girls are also facing.

I feel the support from all here, and everywhere I go I see people give the best of themselves, they want the reality of girls to change. We all have a common cause, we all work for the same objective: that girl´s voices be heard, and the girls´ rights be put into practice, into action. We need action, not only words.

I´ve met girls from countries where a girl´s situation is cruel and unexplicable; girls with physical disabilities, but great intellectual potential that are trying to change the world.

What it means to be a girl

I feel I have some power to change the world. I have met with high-level authorities, with women, men, and girls, and they were keen to hear our experiences, our daily living, to at least perceive and empathize with what it really means to be a girl. Because no one knows what really happens if you are not in our shoes, suffering from bullying, from violence at home…

It maddens me to know that people with the power to change things do not, that they keep on with the traditional schemes; some don’t think girls have the potential to do great things, and our participation is downplayed.

But here, I feel privileged, because there are millions of girls who would like to share their experiences, and they are listening to mine. It´s gratifying to know that I can make a difference!

My hope is that what we are doing does not stay in words, or conventions, or panels, but that action takes place, and reaches our communities. We cannot pretend to change the world if we don’t start in the small places, in our local environments.

I want to make change

And I want to make the change. I want to change the horrible mentality of what many think being a woman, being a girl, means. What being an adolescent means. WE are seen as subjects without rights, without capacities to guide a group, to have an important position, only because we are women, and because, traditionally, they call us the “weaker sex”.

Traditional roles, such as cooking, taking care of brothers, and cleaning are not letting us develop to our full potential. We are being denied the few recreational spaces in our communities, and active participation in local governments.

But after being here, I feel that I have changed. I hope I have inspired other girls from other countries and the USA, such as they have inspired me and helped me learn new things, and new strategies and methods to use in my community and my country.

I hope many have learned more about the situation of girls in the Dominican Republic, and what is really affecting us, and that many more girls from all over can have the opportunity to express themselves and leave the shadows.

via Yulisa: We need action on girls’ rights, not words — About Plan — Plan International.