Maria Josefa Castro Bay, Parramos, Guatemala

Maria José convinced her parents to allow her to continue school. Now, Maria and her mother are work together as an advocacy team to promote girls’ rights in their community.

Maria Josefa Castro Bay, 13
Parramos, Guatemala

Over the past several weeks Let Girls Lead has shared submissions from our Global Girls’ Conversation video contest from girls around the world. Most of our submissions have chronicled the daily struggles adolescent girls face and the innovative ways girls are leading their communities towards change. This week we highlight a story about a girl in Guatemala who convinced her parents to allow her to continue her education. By raising her mother’s awareness about girls’ rights and getting her involved in community organizing, Maria Josefa Castro Bay was able to convince her mother that education matters. Now, Maria and her mother are working together to promote girls’ rights in their community. They recently convinced the local mayor to of Parramos to participate in International Day of the Girl 2013. Maria Josefa can now continue her education and has built a powerful family advocacy team in the process.

Maria’s Story: Hi, I am Maria Josefa Castro Bay. I’m 13 years old, and today I am going to tell you the story of how I had to convince my parents to allow me the opportunity to continue my education. They gave me the assignment to find groups of organized women. I convinced my mom to get involved in some of the groups and activities that the women in her communities were organizing. And that is how my mother changed from a housewife into an activist. It’s now been one year since I’ve started organizing my group of girls. And five months ago, I was able to connect my group with the organization AGRAPTO. Not only do they work doing environmental clean-up, and building water filters, the organization has now included a program to promote the rights of youth and adolescents. I’ve helped organize youth meetings find common interests. One of our actions was meeting with three local mayors to propose a large celebration for the International Day of the Girl, because we have the same rights as boys. It was the mayor of Parramos who heeded our call to action. On October 11th, for the first time, we will celebrate the International Day of the Girl with the support of the town of Parramos. I invite all girls to attend and unite, so that we can make our voice heard and demand respect for the rights of girls and women.

Let Girls Lead is building a global movement to empower girls and their allies to lead social change through advocacy, education, economic empowerment, storytelling and strategic partnerships contributing to improved health, education and livelihoods for more than 2 million girls globally. Let Girls Lead’s vision is that girls have the power to transform their own lives, families, communities and the world.

Let Girls Lead’s Global Girls’ Conversation video contest highlights girls’ power to create change by sharing their own solutions through short videos. The video contest is an exciting opportunity for girls, organizations working with girls and girls’ allies to submit one to two-minute videos capturing girls’ solutions and successes. In partnership with The Huffington Post, Let Girls Lead will feature these compelling videos on the Global Girls’ Conversation interactive platform and on Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood column, sharing girls’ power to lead change with a global audience. Contest winners will receive $10,000 in cash, equipment and training to create their own short films. For more information, please visit here.

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