A letter to the presidential candidates

A fifteen-year-old girl calls out to candidates on the Universal Children’s Day. In Burkina Faso, the political campaign is in full swing for the election of a new president.

 

Dear candidates,

Since Sunday, November 8, I’ve seen you everywhere: on TV, in the newspapers, on the radio, on billboards, in the trees every 20 feet and even on the wooden hut of “Pain Bro,” the guy who sells me bread.

Your speeches, I barely understand. It is not that they are poorly written, it’s just that I feel something has been forgotten, we, the children. So, I too have decided to campaign, but without pens or T-shirts or caps: a campaign without an expiration date.

I’m fifteen. In primary school, and every year, it was always a girl who was best in the class. There were as many girls as boys in the classroom. Competition was fierce. But when we went to secondary school, my friends began to leave, until they stopped coming altogether. We were worried but we all knew why they were not there. It was like a big secret—a secret too heavy to bear. The boys grew and headed toward graduation while most of the girls disappeared. Why? To be married. How can a 13-year old child be married?

At thirteen, my girlfriends and I secretly made fun of the French teacher because his pants were too short and you could see his white socks soiled by dust. We laugh at his carelessness, but time flies. From one day to the next, here we are – my girlfriends are pregnant and married.

Where are the adults who should protect us?

And you, the candidates, how do you plan to stop this?

I have read all your proposals despite the somewhat complicated language. But I have not seen anything on our rights, our rights as children.

Put us at the heart of your programs and your policies, we are the future of the country. My girlfriends and I would like to be included among those who contribute to Burkina Faso: the land of Honorable People.

Signed,
A girl from Faso

The open letter as it ran in the local newspaper.
UNICEF/Burkina Faso-KolyThe open letter as it ran in the local newspaper.

Translation of comic, bottom-left:

“Ma’am, I cannot come to school on Thursday.”

“Don’t tell me you must get married?”

“No, I’m giving my daughter away at her wedding!”

 

Submitted by Saran Koly, Communication Specialist UNICEF Burkina Faso, with additional work by cartoonist  Damien Glez.

 

 

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