Plan Senegal celebrates International Women's Day
12 March, 2012: As part of Plan’s focus on helping women and girls to realise their rights, Plan Senegal marked International Women’s Day this year with two very different events.
At a school in Greater Dakar, with more than 1000 children and other guests present, a big event was held to celebrate women’s place in society and to raise awareness of gender discrimination. A vigorous debate about women’s rights took place between students and the point was made that this is an issue that concerns both girls and boys.
Meanwhile, also on International Women’s Day, an informal breakfast at the Plan Senegal office was attended by 9 local girls who were there to talk about early and enforced marriage and to help Plan staff to come up with strategies to help other girls of their age say no to the practice.
Making dreams come true
Many girls in Senegal, particularly in small villages, come under pressure from their families to leave school and get married at an early age. Once a girl is promised to a man by her family, she has to quit her studies and take on the role of woman of the house.
“Children should go to school, have dreams and have the opportunity to be successful. When they are forced to marry at such an early age, it means no more school for them and their dreams are not fulfilled,” explains Falilou Seck, head of communications at Plan Senegal.
“If I met a boy and fell in love, I would ask him to let me continue with my studies so I could make my dreams come true too. Then after school, we could marry,” one of the girls tells us confidently.
The girls were keen to help other girls realise the full impact of early marriage such as the physical consequences of early childbirth and the mental trauma of having to leave family members behind once married.
“We need an association of young girls in school, to go to these villages and speak to parents and girls about the effects of early and enforced marriage. We need to sensitise them on this issue,” explains another.
“It’s not just the girls that we need to talk to. Parents need to sit down and talk to their children about marriage, to understand how they feel about wanting to stay in school and not marry until they are ready. With Plan’s help, we can encourage this and help girls in Senegal,” she said.