We sometimes fall prey to the normal tendencies of a teenager—to focus on the problems we’re faced with every day, from the most significant to the petty and least important.
But it’s too easy to do just that, to think of ourselves and how we can further our own dreams and goals, how we can be successful and how we can do more for ourselves.
If we live like this, what do we learn of the world, of bettering ourselves and community, of the trials and tribulations of those less fortunate than we are?
My time as a youth delegate at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women reminded me of the importance of not listening to the well known phrase of “ignorance is bliss.”
Ignorance is bliss only if we allow ourselves to be complacent about the problems around us.
During my time at the conference, ignorance was not an option. Not because I didn’t want it sometimes, didn’t want to forget about the horror stories I heard or the inspiring people I met.
Ignorance was not an option because it was my duty to pay attention, to hear the stories and learn the lessons. It is an active decision to ignore what is going on around you.
At each panel or event I attended, I was transported into a new and unknown world that exists within the very one I am living in.
I heard about the gruesome details of female genital mutilation, about the tragic reality of young girls tricked and forced into prostitution, about the staggering number of forced abortions in China and infants murdered simply because they are girls in India.
There is one question about the truth of the horrors that plague the lives of the women and girls around the world—the only question is whether or not we do something about it.
When we learn about the horrors existing around the world around us, we can either accept it, write it off as the norms of a society or culture or religion, or, better yet, we can choose to work actively to change it; work towards ensuring that our current reality merely becomes a tragic history to future generations.
After hearing the stories this past week at the CSW, after witnessing the violence that our fellow human beings have been and will continue to be subject to on a daily basis, I believe the choice is obvious.
Although it’s easy to become dejected or forlorn after hearing such egregious stories, we must look at each one as a story of survival, as a testament to the incredible resilience of women and girls around the world.
The thing is, for each one of these stories, there are hundreds, thousands more.
Hearing these stories is essential not only for the benefit of those telling them and hearing them, but also to ensure a different future.
We must fix the system, the society, the world, that has already allowed for the hurt of so many and will continue to do so if we, those who are aware and able to foster change, do not.
It’s easy to stay in our teenage bubble, but it’s our obligation as citizens of this world to educate ourselves.
We need to know about what is happening in the world and to actively work on changing it.