Beyond Taboos: A Young Girl Challenging Long-Held Beliefs

Alex*, a 16-year-old from Caloocan is challenging long-held beliefs about what it means to be a girl.

Type: Story

Alex*, a 16-year-old from Caloocan is challenging long-held beliefs about what it means to be a girl.

“Alam naman po natin na hindi naman dapat nakabase sa gender kung ano ang dapat nating gawin, sa kung ano dapat maging actions natin. Huwag nating hayaan na i-judge tayo ng iba dahil babae tayo or feeling nila mahina tayo (Gender shouldn’t dictate our actions or define us. We shouldn’t be judged or seen as weak just because we’re girls),” Alex said.

Despite her young age, Alex is an influential leader both within her school and community. Through Save the Children, she has found the tools to empower not only herself but also other children, particularly girls, to effect positive change in society.

“As a member of the student council, Save the Children has helped me brainstorm additional platforms and programs within our school to enhance the experiences of our fellow students. As people's mindsets evolve, our interactions improve, and progress becomes more attainable,” she remarked.

Alex has been part of Save the Children Philippines’ Sponsorship Program since the age of five. The redesigned Sponsorship program now places a strong emphasis on empowering girls aged 10 to 17, along with boys in the same household, to protect themselves against issues like adolescent pregnancy and child, early, forced, and arranged marriages and unions (CEFMU). By directly involving children in relevant discussions and providing opportunities for participation and skill-building, the program aims to significantly enhance their lives.

Having participated in various programs and educational sessions, Alex has emerged as a child ambassador and a representative of the Children Advisory Team (ChATS) in Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas (CaMaNa). Additionally, she is an active member of Kabataan Konek, a platform facilitating children's engagement with different sectors of society and ensuring their rights are upheld.

In her roles as class president and student council secretary, Alex frequently witnesses how gender stereotypes constrain girls' opportunities and experiences. She recalls instances where female classmates opted out of prom festivities due to restrictive dress codes, and where girls were disproportionately assigned cleaning tasks compared to their male peers.

“There's a lack of freedom, especially for girls who seek comfort in their clothing choices. The stereotype that girls are solely responsible for household chores is unfair. I hope people realize that girls deserve better treatment,” she asserted.

Addressing her fellow girls, Alex urged, “Don't allow others to limit you based on your gender. Your talents are yours to explore. Show them that you can pursue your passions without conforming to outdated notions of what's 'appropriate' for girls.”

Promoting a Healthy Future through Comprehensive Sex Education

In December 2023, the Urban Sponsorship program collaborated with the Young Feminists Collective to organize “Future Forward: Claiming our Rights and Securing Our Future – Adolescents Advocating for Pregnancy Prevention.”

The primary objective of the event was to equip child representatives from diverse youth groups, like Alex, with the knowledge and confidence to engage in conversations about adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR). It also aimed to involve them in advocating for the passage of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) Bill, also known as House Bill (HB) 8910, which seeks to address the escalating rate of adolescent pregnancies and establish stronger social protection mechanisms for adolescent parents and their families.

Alex believes that the lack of comprehensive sex education for children stems from cultural taboos surrounding discussions about sex, reproductive health, and contraception. “Young people are naturally curious about things they haven't experienced, which contributes to the high rates of teenage pregnancy,” she observed.

Reflecting on the inadequacies of euphemistic language often employed by adults when discussing sexual matters with children, Alex emphasized that children have the right to accurate information about their bodies and reproductive health. She stressed the importance of creating a society where such topics are openly discussed and understood.

“The ideal world is one where everyone is comfortable discussing these matters openly. I know it's challenging to change societal norms and mentalities, but it's worth it. By educating others, we not only empower ourselves but also shape the perspectives of those around us,” Alex shared.

Alex envisions a future where girls lead without facing discrimination. She remains committed to using her voice to educate fellow children about crucial issues such as child rights, reproductive health, and mental well-being. Through initiatives like this, Save the Children Philippines aims to foster environments conducive to open discussions and empower children to safeguard themselves and their peers.

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Save the Children Philippines has been working hard every day to give Filipino children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for and with children to positively transform their lives and the future we share.

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