An open letter to all the world's lost girls
Ahead of International Women-'s Day tomorrow, 16-year-old June Eric Udorie writes a letter to the forgotten girls around the world, from kidnapped...
Ahead of International Women's Day tomorrow, 16-year-old June Eric Udorie writes a letter to the forgotten girls around the world, from kidnapped schoolgirls to those battling body image issues To mark International Women’s Day, I’m writing a letter to girls everywhere, especially those who have been ignored, forgotten and lost. Remember, you are brave, you are strong and you are beautiful.
To the girl who cannot look at her reflection in the mirror, you are not alone. We have all had those moments, moments in which we feel inadequate, hate our bodies and wonder why we are not beautiful. Society has dictated to us what beauty is. It’s hard, but remember, beauty lies in simplicity. Beauty lies in your smile, in your kindness, in your actions and deeds. You are more than a body and you are more than your looks. You are a girl with strength and overwhelming potential.
To the girl who has been through female genital mutilation (FGM). It will be OK. You survived – you are a survivor. They may have violated your rights but believe in yourself. Believe in your strength. FGM does not define you; you are much more than that. To the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, you are still in my heart.
It has nearly been a year since you were kidnapped, simply for wanting an education and others have been stolen since. An education is your human right, but like Malala Yousafzai and the 66 million girls denied and education worldwide, you are stripped of that inalienable human right. My sisters, you are lionesses- resilient, strong women. I salute you and I will never forget you. We will never forget you. To the girl who has been sexually assaulted or raped - it is not your fault. It is not your fault even if you were drunk, wearing a miniskirt or walking around a dark street at 7pm. It is never your fault, the blame remains entirely with the perpetrator.
We cannot reverse what happened, but your life can continue. There will be dark days, days you feel you simply feel like you cannot continue. Please don’t give up on those days – you survived. That in itself says something, right? To the girl who feels that before she can be beautiful she has to change the colour of her skin. You skin is perfect as it is. Your skin is beautiful. You are perfect as you are.
To the girl who faces everyday sexism – there are so many women with similar stories who are behind you. To the girl who is groped on the bus, masturbated at on the tube and harassed as you walk home, remember that your body belongs to you. You can shout back if you want to. Nobody has a right to touch you without your consent. To the girl who has to have an unsafe abortion because you live in a country where your unborn foetus has more rights than you do, we offer you solidarity. It is unfair and unjust that you are made to go through this pain.
To the girl who cannot make her own choices because of ‘honour’, who risks everything from a forced marriage to an end to her life because of her behavior, there is hope and there is help. The ‘dishonour’ and ‘shame’ does not and will never lie with you, it lies with the perpetrator of violence. I write this to the forgotten girls, the ignored girls, the lost girls. To the girls who are groomed, to those suffering domestic violence in silence, to those who are sold into a live of slavery and those who are forced into marrying someone they have only met in a photograph, I stand with you.
This International Women’s Day, I remember you. I remember the potential we never got to see. I weep for the change that you could have brought to the world. I salute you for your bravery during those times of adversity. I promise to continue to raise my voice until we are all safe from violence and free. This International Women’s Day, I hold your hand in solidarity. And I only hope these words reach as many of you as possible.