International Day of the Girl Child

Hanan, 16, is one of the many young girls who have fled Syria in the wake of the devastating conflict. She now lives in the Za’atari refugee camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border with her family, which she describes as ‘okay.’

Originally from the city of Daraa in southern Syria, Hanan misses her time there.

“Life in Daraa was very good and beautiful,” she says.

Hanan and her family have been deeply affected by the war. They spent 3 days at the border of Syria and Jordan, which she describes as ‘cold and difficult.’

She still has family in Syria. Three of her uncles were killed in the conflict and and two of her male cousins died with their father.

Many parents worry that the camp is a dangerous place for their children, especially girls, to be in.

“I can’t go outside the camp and am forced to wear these clothes by my father,” Hanan says.

“He doesn’t allow me to go outside the tent, except for school.

“I want everyone in the world to hear my voice and I want to send a message. We are in Zaa’tari and we live like this.”

Despite the hard circumstances, many young women like Hanan are desperate to make a difference. UNICEF provides the young people in the camp with a full education and a recognised certificate, which is very important to the girls that were interviewed.

Hanan is determined to keep up with her studies and wants to be a journalist.

“I will embody the future of my country,” she says. “I want to rebuild Syria and participate.”

International Day of the Girl Child

Friday 11 October is the second annual International Day of the Girl Child. This is a day designated by the United Nations to promote girls’ and women’s rights around the world. The theme for this year’s Day is ‘innovation for education’, focusing on the use of technology and partnerships to overcome the gender barrier to girls’ learning and achievement.

The key message is simple. Girls are going to school more than ever before, yet there are still millions of poor, disadvantaged girls around the world who do not get the chance, or who drop out before their education is completed. UNICEF, the head organisation for the Day, promotes the idea of all girls going to school regardless of age, ethnicity or background.

With the power of education, girls like Hanan in refugee camps can have a future. With education, women can have careers, plan healthcare and families, and work alongside men to improve and rebuild their countries. Give them a voice.

Guest post by Emma Young (15), Bandon Grammar School