“Nobody is safe from false news published online”
Aakriti is one of 62 girls who took over the roles of powerholders in their communities to highlight the impact of online misinformation on girls’ lives.
As an active member of Plan International’s Champions of Change programme in Nepal, 14-year-old Aakriti from Bardiya district in western Nepal says she was unaware of the inequalities faced by girls and women in Nepalese society until she joined the project.
“Gradually I realised that gender-based discrimination is highly prevalent in our society. Girls have more work burdens and restrictions than boys. The programme also helped me build my confidence,” explains Aakriti who lives with her her parents and younger brother.
Advocate for positive change
Now Aakriti is raising her voice and tells us she believes that change should start in the home so has been advocating against the inequalities she sees in her home, such as being given more chores than her brother. “I am also engaged in campaigning and advocating against child marriage since the rate of child marriage is very high in my community. I campaign using street plays to raise awareness.”
Aakriti has also joined Plan International’s Girls Get Equal campaign and is learning about the misinformation and disinformation that affects girls’ lives, learning and leadership. Thanks to her dedication, she was selected to take over the role of ward secretary for the day to mark the 2021 International Day of the Girl.
“In the beginning, I was nervous when I heard that I had been selected to take over as ward secretary as I didn’t know what the role of the ward secretary was. Before the event, I attended 5 days of virtual training where we discussed the issue of misinformation and disinformation, the structure of the ward office, and my responsibility as the ward secretary for the day.”
Call for a safer internet
In total, 62 girls took part in the 2021 Girls Takeover in Nepal, taking over leadership roles in 31 local governments in 7 districts where Plan International works. The girls were able to secure written commitments from local governments to work together with adolescent girl groups to build a future where girls are free to be online.
“I feel that the internet is still not safe for girls, especially related to privacy,” says Aakriti. “As a member of the Champions of Change and as a youth activist, I believe that girls should be more aware of misinformation and disinformation online and I urge girls to stay safe while using the internet.”
Aakriti says that if given the opportunity, all girls have the ability to be leaders. “I was fortunate to be part of the Girls Takeover,” says Aakriti. “No one is safe from false news published online. People are suffering but no one is talking about it. I was able to raise the issue of misinformation online to the ward secretary. I held the role of the powerholder for a day and was able to interact with the ward office on the issues that matter to girls.”