Kanwal Ahluwalia, Gender Equality Advisor at Plan UK: “As a yoga teacher and an activist for women’s and girls’ rights, my two passions come together in my work at Plan UK. Plan works to support girls and boys in realising their rights and fulfil their potential. Our girls’ rights campaign focuses on the specific challenges that girls face due to poverty and discrimination for being born female. They may experience violence by family members at home, by teachers and other students at school or through harmful traditional practices such as child marriage or Female Genital Mutilation. The ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign aims to ensure that girls live a dignified life, free from all forms of violence, have access to quality education and are empowered to take part in decisions that affect them. Plan recognises that this is challenging and complex work. But by working with allies in communities and at government level, change is possible.
Just as I try to live by the principles of yoga as articulated thousands of years ago in India, Plan’s work on preventing violence can be seen as part of the principle of ahimsa or non-violence. By supporting girls to understand why violence takes place, their role in preventing it, and by enlisting the support of those who have an influence on the lives of girls, together we can make a difference. We can all go a long way to unbind ourselves by challenging our own limited ideas about ourselves and others around us. By understanding that we are all connected regardless of where we live or our situation, we can better understand the situation of girls globally. Plan works both here in the UK and overseas towards social justice for girls at the fringes of society.”
As we prepare for the holidays, there will be millions of girls who will not be taking a break. Taken out of school to do household chores or to get married; denied a voice in decisions affecting them, and subjected to violence due to their lower status in society – girls are robbed of childhood and prevented from fulfilling their potential.
Give girls a break this holiday season – join the biggest global campaign for girls’ rights at www.becauseiamagirl.org.uk