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#GirlsVoices: Equality, safety, change

We spoke to #GirlsVoices advocate Yuma, 15, from Nicaragua, about what life's like for girls in her community, and what needs to change to make the world a safe, more equal place for girls to grow up in future.

Are boys and girls treated equally in your community?
There are differences. Boys receive more leadership opportunities compared to girls. As girls, when we pass from childhood phase to teenage phase, we suffer isolation. 

What things do you think need to change to make sure girls and boys are treated equally?  
Society must change the way it thinks about girls. There should be equality between girls and boys, at school and at home. There are parents who have wrong ideas about boys and girls – they take boys into account more and think that are the ones who should work and make money. There is a need to sensitise parents and community leaders around girls’ rights. 

What risks do boys and girls face in your community?
For girls, there are dangers such as rape, child abuse, violence, drugs and alcohol consumption. 

Are you taken seriously when you report violence? 
I had a personal experience at school. Some girls at school used to wait on me going home and would bully me. They used to harass me using messages, chats, through Facebook, threatening me. So I went to school authorities, because the girls are older than me. The authority’s reaction was very good, they took me seriously, they immediately called the girls’ parents and my parents. We went through a conciliation process, and signed an agreement in which we established this wouldn’t happen again. That was about two and a half months ago. 

What does feeling safe mean to you? 
Feeling safe is to not be afraid or discriminated against, to have free speech and not be afraid to speak, to think, dress, or walk. It also means having good leaders and good friends.

Why do you think children and young people should be included in decision making and holding governments to account for their promises? 
We are the ones who know about what it’s like to be young, what we like and don’t like, what our problems and difficulties are, and what we want for the future. That’s a great reason to take us into account!

What needs to change for the world to be better for girls in 2030?
1.    Girls should be taken into account and our opinions listened to. We know how to think, and our opinions and decisions should be respected.
2.    The way parents, authorities and community leaders think about girls should change.