Girls’ Picnic: International Day of the Girl, 2023

Instead of enjoying a protected and carefree upbringing in a nurturing environment that fosters their full potential, many girls around the world continue to endure injustice. According to UNICEF’s global statistics:

  • Teenage pregnancy ranks as the leading cause of death among adolescent girls, with 4 out of 10 girls aged 15-19 not utilizing modern contraception methods.
  • 1 in 4 adolescent girls aged 15-19, who are married or in a relationship, have experienced physical or sexual violence from their intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 girls fail to complete primary education, and 4 out of 10 do not finish secondary education.

In an effort to empower girls to navigate these challenges wisely and informedly, the National Network to End Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, in collaboration with the American PopUp Corner, decided to observe the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th. They organized a Girls’ picnic at City Park. Three concurrent discussions were held, addressing each of the three points outlined in the UNICEF report:

  1. Women’s sexual and reproductive health

…including methods of protection against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy, along with the importance of maintaining reproductive health through regular visits to a gynecologist and open conversations with trusted elders. The discussion was moderated by peer educator Marta Chadikovska from HERA.

  1. Abusive teenage relationships

…and the less obvious initial signs, often mistaken for expressions of love and devotion, which in reality signify jealousy, control, and abuse of power. Teodora Mileska from the Stella Network utilized the Flag System, presenting several hypothetical scenarios for which the girls had to indicate a green, yellow, or red response.

  1. Career planning for our future

…and navigating the myriad opportunities in a world that can often overwhelm rather than guide young girls. Experienced professional Katerina Zlatanovska Popova from the Association of Career Development Consultants introduced various techniques for finding inner voice and personal motivation. Participants also received a copy of the novel “Her Own” recounting the personal journey of the author Irena Chaushevska Danilovska, a former victim of domestic violence who has since become a successful entrepreneur and researcher, inspiring others with her resilience.

Each attending girl also received a picnic basket containing tea, healthy snacks, and informational materials detailing where to seek help if they ever feel threatened or unsafe.

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