“Ever since I was young, I wanted to be independent, capable of expressing my opinion and making decisions of my own. My interest in becoming an active participant in society led me to join the Towards a Better Tomorrow Association (Nagat) at the age of 14.
The past three years have been pivotal as they opened new doors for me to actively engage in building awareness of gender equality and women’s empowerment for girls my age. I became Vice-President of the girls’ Board of Directors at Nagat, brainstorming ideas and designing various activities to be implemented by the organization, for instance, awareness workshops for girls on menstrual health, self-empowerment, climate issues, as well as reproductive health, gender-based violence and early marriage.
The coronavirus pandemic also imposed a new set of challenges for young girls, which greatly affected their education. As schools shifted to distance learning following the Government’s restrictive measures, girls between the ages of 13–18 were exposed to additional burdens of household work on top of their studies. As the lockdown continued, girls were expected to devote more time to domestic chores than boys. This has also resulted in an increase of domestic violence against young girls.
Despite the increased need to provide a safe space for girls, the organization also faced difficulties in carrying out face-to-face activities when the defense laws were in place. However, we did not stop. Instead, we opted to use online platforms that are easily accessible, such as Zoom, Facebook or WhatsApp to carry out our projects amid the pandemic. I continued to disseminate information online and held workshops to raise awareness on domestic violence perpetrated against girls.
This work is important to me because it strengthens my personality, gives me experience in this field and enables me to benefit others and myself. It enables me to change society’s thinking about girls, even if it is just 1 per cent.
My experience with Nagat over the past three years has taught me the importance of educating girls on the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Once girls become informed on such issues, then they can decide whether to actively participate and raise their voice for gender equality. My message to all girls of my age is: Trust yourself. You are an equally important and valuable being. Love and respect yourself. If we keep trying, change will happen. I encourage you to raise your voices and make your own decisions.”
Available in Arabic here.
As a youth leader and as a peer educator, 17-year-old Daoud seeks to change mindsets in her society so that women and girls can be more independent and lives better lives. Her work contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 5, on gender equality and empowering women and girls.