15-year-old Yuma comes from Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. Violence against women and girls is rife in her community, particularly sexual violence. “Acts of violence are common. I’ve seen physical violence, trauma and bullying – much of which has taken place at the hands of gangs,” she explains.
Determined to change people’s mind-sets around violence, and their attitudes to women and girls, Yuma joined Plan International’s Girl Power Programme.
As one of the programmes agents of change, Yuma knows that life shouldn’t – and doesn’t have to be – characterised by violence and inequality. “Women are just as strong as men,” she says. “Life doesn’t have to be like this.”
Set up with the support of the Dutch government, the Girl Power programme unites six NGOs, led by Plan International Netherlands, to promote equal rights and opportunities for girls and young women in 10 countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
The programme has been granted €52m over five years (2011-2015) to help Plan International and its partners ensure the full participation of girls and young women in society, politics and the economy.
Since she’s been involved in the programme, Yuma has learnt how to interact with people and how to express herself. She is determined to keep learning and hopes to go to university to study psychology.