Memory Banda (Malawi) and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)–(both 18)—All Praise to These Girls as Agents of Change!
Memory Banda recently gave a Ted Talk to tell the story of how she’s changing opportunities for girls. She describes how in her community, her sister was married at age 11 and became pregnant, while she herself resisted marriage and sought to define her own future; she calls herself “Amazing” and she is truly amazing… indomitable. Starting at home by appealing to community leaders, she organized momentum which remarkably led to the Malawi Parliament’s passing a law to change the legal age for a girl to marry from 15 to 18. Of course, that age criteria exists in many other countries without compliance, but it’s a start. She emphasized how much more work there is to do worldwide to prevent child marriages and to encourage communities to educate their girls and more importantly, to support girls to have the courage to assert their human rights even in the face of powerful tradition– which is often enforced by both tradition-bound males and females. From her beautiful face and determined countenance comes a compelling message of change. Young women like Memory and Pakistani girls education activist Malala Yousafzai, are leading a younger generation on the move to revolt against what is wrong and pave a new path for generations of girls to come.
Many are now familiar with Malala’s courageous story and will easily find talks she’s given. Both she and her father have given Ted Talks and she spoke powerfully at the United Nations.
Note: While in the United States, girls are typically not married at such young ages, early pregnancies also destroy lives and continue the cycle of poverty. More recently, thanks to decades of trialing intervention programs and implementation of simple contraceptive devices–such as an implant placed under the skin in the upper arm– many states are seeing dramatic declines in teen birth rates. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service reported a dramatic 44% drop in teen pregnancies from 1990-2010.
Photo credits: ggmntv and the World Bank.