International Day of the Girl: advice from Syrian teens

Irbid, Jordan

Safaa, 16:

The war has had such a negative impact on girls. We’ve had so much to fear in our lives. Some girls don’t feel comfortable going to school.
Some girls don’t even want to go outside. But we must be strong. We must remember our own power. We still have a life. We are still strong. Yes, we’ve had a bad thing happen to us – the war has hurt everyone. But despite the war, as humans we still have rights.
No one can take these away. I learned to recognize my own power by coming to CARE’s safe space. Here I became more self-confident.

Participating in the psychosocial activities has allowed us to discuss our lives and better understand our problems. 

I believe education helps guarantee us a better future. More than war, it can help fulfill the dreams of what we want to accomplish in life. Education can have a positive influence in our lives. For example, I want to be a lawyer – an education will help me do that. I want to help people realize their rights, especially the poor. Law isn’t a traditional job for girls. It used to be a shameful career choice. But things are changing.

I want all girls everywhere to feel encouraged. We must maintain positive energy and avoid negative thinking. You’ll be stronger and better able to plan for the future. Believe that change is possible.

Marah, 17:

It was difficult to see anything in the future, because I hadn’t completed my studies, although my parents have made me return to school recently, after being absent for many years. I feel like I’ll stay now. For my future it’s necessary.

Early marriage is a challenge that Syrian girls are facing. But at such a young age, this is too much responsibility for a girl. 
Girls who marry young lose their education, they lose their personality. They must stay at home all day, take care of the home, clean, cloth, and feed everyone – but they’re still girls. 

On International Day of the Girl I want to remind girls to be strong despite their challenges. I want to be successful, but I must work to be successful. We must work hard to pass through the emotionally difficult times – times when I am afraid, like when I’m confronted by a new country, new experiences, or even by war. We can’t allow the fear to paralyze us.

We must accept the now in order to create the future. This life Is a lot like a school – it’s here that we learn. 

Yamama, 17:

We have many challenges, but we can’t accept or ignore these. We must be strong and confront them. Early marriage for instance – families don’t understand the disadvantages of early marriage. They want their daughter to be safe, or they think they will solve economic problems, but they don’t realize it will create more troubles for the girl. 

Or in some families, parents don’t want their daughter to go to school, because they believe there are dangers. Maybe boys or strange men will harass her in the street. These concerns are real.

On International Day of the Girl, I want all girls everywhere to try and be strong, face your issues, and work with your friends, family and community to change them. Yes, Syrian girls have come out of a war. Many of us are poor, we have lost so much… But we must not accept that we are only this image. We are much more. We are strong Syrian girls. 


Shahed, 15:

We have many challenges, but we can’t accept or ignore these. We must be strong and confront them. 

Early marriage for instance – families don’t understand the disadvantages of early marriage. They want their daughter to be safe, or they think they

All of us have had to accept this new life, this ordeal. Everyone had plans for the future. Then, overnight, everything changed. Those plans were destroyed. Now my family are refugees, but at least we’re living in the community and not in a camp. This is something good. We are maybe four, six, maybe seven years in Jordan. We have deep troubles – but we still think about our future – we still hold hope in one. 

Life is meant to be an experience. We need to confront the difficulties, understand them, and move forward. The war has taught us a lot about life. I’ve learned that we’re each stronger than we think. 

On the International Day of the Girl, I want to share with girls around the world: live the life you aspire to. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but step by step face each of your challenges. Don’t let them stop you, don’t be slowed by negative emotions. You are stronger than you realize. We can achieve our dreams. 

Photos: Mary Kate MacIsaac

For more on our work in Syria, click here.