Name: Tserenbaljir Mandakh Organization: Mongolia’s The Princess Center for the Protection of Girl’s and Young Women’s Rights Awards/Achievements: 1) Client turned advocate; 2) Board member and club coordinator at Young Mothers’ Club, The Princess Center Introduction I was born on July 17, 1995 and now … Continue reading
Name: Hoai Chu Thi Thu
Organization: Vietnam’s Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender – Family – Women and Adolescents (CSAGA)
Awards/Achievements: 1) Survivor of domestic violence; 2) Advocate/volunteering to help disadvantaged people; 3) Model student at school with good grades
When I was 13 years old, my mother was beaten to death by my father and his family members. The court had to review the case many times, but finally, with the support of voluntary lawyers and CSAGA reporters, all the people who caused the death of my mother were put into prison for seven to more than ten years. The CSAGA supported me and my brother financially until we were 18, and I now aspire to be a lawyer who protects the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people. To help me achieve that goal, I’m taking the University Entrance Exam for the Trade University’s Law Department. (Update: Hoai has passed her University exams with flying colors and will begin her studies in law when the semester begins.) I’m also volunteering as a social worker to serve disadvantaged people.
Violence against girls, including sexual abuse, is one of the most serious issues in my country. In 2011, the Vietnamese police discovered an adolescent prostitute network in Ha Giang Province and found that the leader of the network was a high school headmaster. This teacher forced many girls from grades 10 to 12 to have sex with him and then forced them to become prostitutes. In addition, domestic violence against women/girls is very common in Vietnam. According to national research on domestic violence in 2010, up to 58% of Vietnamese women have suffered from physical, psychological or economic violence.
I have given talks in school to share my story and encourage others to say no to violence. Why do I want to join the Ambassador program? Because I want to tell my story of violence to many people in Asia and encourage them to break the cycle of violence.
The universally recognized butterfly hand gesture has been named the official hand symbol of the Asian Girl Campaign. The campaign, which seeks to make the world a better place through the empowerment of girls, was established in 2012 by the Garden of Hope Foundation to promote the United Nation’s International Day of the Girl, which falls on October 11 every year.
Change Leads to Change
The butterfly gesture was chosen for the Asian Girl Campaign because the changes butterflies go through in their lives symbolize the journey abused girls take during their recovery. Personal change leads to change in society and change in society leads to personal change, and if this happens enough, it can grow into a revolution. The Garden of Hope Foundation is hoping the new butterfly hand gesture will help create a “change to change” revolution for girls across Asia.
Just as colorful butterflies begin their lives as ugly caterpillars, many girls across Asia live ugly lives of discrimination and abuse. When they begin to receive help, they enter cocoons of protection against violence, therapy and shelter. Just like butterflies, they transform inside their cocoons and emerge as very different creatures.
When butterflies leave their cocoons, they are free from their old lives and can fly wherever they want. They are not safe from danger, though, as their delicate wings leave them vulnerable. Hence, butterflies, and girls, too, should unite to find safety in numbers.
The final reason the butterfly is a good symbol for the Asian Girl Campaign is something called the butterfly effect. Although a butterfly flapping its wings is not very powerful, the energy produced by a group of butterflies could cause a change on the other side of the world.
Girls may not appear to be strong or influential, but their actions can have wide-reaching consequences. If enough of them join together, there’s no limit to changes they can produce in the world.