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  • I'll begin today

  • by sharing a poem

  • written by my friend from Malawi,

  • Eileen Piri.

  • Eileen is only 13 years old,

  • but when we were going through the collection of poetry that we wrote,

  • I found her poem so interesting,

  • so motivating.

  • So I'll read it to you.

  • She entitled her poem "I'll Marry When I Want."

  • (Laughter)

  • "I'll marry when I want.

  • My mother can't force me to marry.

  • My father cannot force me to marry.

  • My uncle, my aunt,

  • my brother or sister,

  • cannot force me to marry.

  • No one in the world

  • can force me to marry.

  • I'll marry when I want.

  • Even if you beat me,

  • even if you chase me away,

  • even if you do anything bad to me,

  • I'll marry when I want.

  • I'll marry when I want,

  • but not before I am well educated,

  • and not before I am all grown up.

  • I'll marry when I want."

  • This poem might seem odd,

  • written by a 13-year-old girl,

  • but where I and Eileen come from,

  • this poem, which I have just read to you,

  • is a warrior's cry.

  • I am from Malawi.

  • Malawi is one of the poorest countries,

  • very poor,

  • where gender equality is questionable.

  • Growing up in that country,

  • I couldn't make my own choices in life.

  • I couldn't even explore

  • personal opportunities in life.

  • I will tell you a story

  • of two different girls,

  • two beautiful girls.

  • These girls grew up

  • under the same roof.

  • They were eating the same food.

  • Sometimes, they would share clothes,

  • and even shoes.

  • But their lives ended up differently,

  • in two different paths.

  • The other girl is my little sister.

  • My little sister was only 11 years old

  • when she got pregnant.

  • It's a hurtful thing.

  • Not only did it hurt her, even me.

  • I was going through a hard time as well.

  • As it is in my culture,

  • once you reach puberty stage,

  • you are supposed to go to initiation camps.

  • In these initiation camps,

  • you are taught how to sexually please a man.

  • There is this special day,

  • which they call "Very Special Day"

  • where a man who is hired by the community

  • comes to the camp

  • and sleeps with the little girls.

  • Imagine the trauma that these young girls

  • go through every day.

  • Most girls end up pregnant.

  • They even contract HIV and AIDS

  • and other sexually transmitted diseases.

  • For my little sister, she ended up being pregnant.

  • Today, she's only 16 years old

  • and she has three children.

  • Her first marriage did not survive,

  • nor did her second marriage.

  • On the other side, there is this girl.

  • She's amazing.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • I call her amazing because she is.

  • She's very fabulous.

  • That girl is me. (Laughter)

  • When I was 13 years old,

  • I was told, you are grown up,

  • you have now reached of age,

  • you're supposed to go to the initiation camp.

  • I was like, "What?

  • I'm not going to go to the initiation camps."

  • You know what the women said to me?

  • "You are a stupid girl. Stubborn.

  • You do not respect the traditions of our society, of our community."

  • I said no because I knew where I was going.

  • I knew what I wanted in life.

  • I had a lot of dreams as a young girl.

  • I wanted to get well educated,

  • to find a decent job in the future.

  • I was imagining myself as a lawyer,

  • seated on that big chair.

  • Those were the imaginations that

  • were going through my mind every day.

  • And I knew that one day,

  • I would contribute something, a little something to my community.

  • But every day after refusing,

  • women would tell me,

  • "Look at you, you're all grown up. Your little sister has a baby.

  • What about you?"

  • That was the music that I was hearing every day,

  • and that is the music that girls hear every day

  • when they don't do something that the community needs them to do.

  • When I compared the two stories between me and my sister,

  • I said, "Why can't I do something?

  • Why can't I change something that has happened for a long time

  • in our community?"

  • That was when I called other girls

  • just like my sister, who have children,

  • who have been in class but they have forgotten how to read and write.

  • I said, "Come on, we can remind each other

  • how to read and write again,

  • how to hold the pen, how to read, to hold the book."

  • It was a great time I had with them.

  • Nor did I just learn a little about them,

  • but they were able to tell me their personal stories,

  • what they were facing every day

  • as young mothers.

  • That was when I was like,

  • 'Why can't we take all these things that are happening to us

  • and present them and tell our mothers, our traditional leaders,

  • that these are the wrong things?"

  • It was a scary thing to do,

  • because these traditional leaders,

  • they are already accustomed to the things

  • that have been there for ages.

  • A hard thing to change,

  • but a good thing to try.

  • So we tried.

  • It was very hard, but we pushed.

  • And I'm here to say that in my community,

  • it was the first community after girls

  • pushed so hard to our traditional leader,

  • and our leader stood up for us and said no girl has to be married

  • before the age of 18.

  • (Applause)

  • In my community,

  • that was the first time a community,

  • they had to call the bylaws,

  • the first bylaw that protected girls

  • in our community.

  • We did not stop there.

  • We forged ahead.

  • We were determined to fight for girls not just in my community,

  • but even in other communities.

  • When the child marriage bill was being presented in February,

  • we were there at the Parliament house.

  • Every day, when the members of Parliament were entering,

  • we were telling them, "Would you please support the bill?"

  • And we don't have much technology like here,

  • but we have our small phones.

  • So we said, "Why can't we get their numbers and text them?"

  • So we did that. It was a good thing.

  • (Applause)

  • So when the bill passed, we texted them back,

  • "Thank you for supporting the bill."

  • (Laughter)

  • And when the bill was signed by the president,

  • making it into law, it was a plus.

  • Now, in Malawi, 18 is the legal marriage age, from 15 to 18.

  • (Applause)

  • It's a good thing to know that the bill passed,

  • but let me tell you this:

  • There are countries where 18 is the legal marriage age,

  • but don't we hear cries of women and girls every day?

  • Every day, girls' lives are being wasted away.

  • This is high time for leaders to honor their commitment.

  • In honoring this commitment,

  • it means keeping girls' issues at heart every time.

  • We don't have to be subjected as second,

  • but they have to know that women, as we are in this room,

  • we are not just women, we are not just girls,

  • we are extraordinary.

  • We can do more.

  • And another thing for Malawi,

  • and not just Malawi but other countries:

  • The laws which are there,

  • you know how a law is not a law until it is enforced?

  • The law which has just recently passed

  • and the laws that in other countries have been there,

  • they need to be publicized at the local level,

  • at the community level,

  • where girls' issues are very striking.

  • Girls face issues, difficult issues, at the community level every day.

  • So if these young girls know that there are laws that protect them,

  • they will be able to stand up and defend themselves

  • because they will know that there is a law that protects them.

  • And another thing I would say is that

  • girls' voices and women's voices

  • are beautiful, they are there,

  • but we cannot do this alone.

  • Male advocates, they have to jump in,

  • to step in and work together.

  • It's a collective work.

  • What we need is what girls elsewhere need:

  • good education, and above all, not to marry whilst 11.

  • And furthermore,

  • I know that together,

  • we can transform the legal,

  • the cultural and political framework

  • that denies girls of their rights.

  • I am standing here today

  • and declaring that we can end child marriage in a generation.

  • This is the moment

  • where a girl and a girl, and millions of girls worldwide,

  • will be able to say,

  • "I will marry when I want."

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you. (Applause)

I'll begin today

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TED】一個戰士反對童婚的吶喊|記憶班達|TED演講稿 (【TED】A Warrior’s Cry Against Child Marriage | Memory Banda | TED Talks)

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    Max Lin 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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