Memory Banda: A Warrior’s Cry Against Child Marriage | TED

138,983 views ・ 2015-07-07

TED


Please double-click on the English subtitles below to play the video.

00:13
I'll begin today
0
13014
1811
00:14
by sharing a poem
1
14825
2066
00:16
written by my friend from Malawi,
2
16891
3135
00:20
Eileen Piri.
3
20026
2136
00:22
Eileen is only 13 years old,
4
22162
3344
00:25
but when we were going through the collection of poetry that we wrote,
5
25506
5874
00:31
I found her poem so interesting,
6
31380
2868
00:34
so motivating.
7
34248
1997
00:36
So I'll read it to you.
8
36245
2113
00:38
She entitled her poem "I'll Marry When I Want."
9
38905
3598
00:42
(Laughter)
10
42503
2856
00:45
"I'll marry when I want.
11
45359
2531
00:47
My mother can't force me to marry.
12
47890
4900
00:52
My father cannot force me to marry.
13
52790
3204
00:57
My uncle, my aunt,
14
57526
2810
01:00
my brother or sister,
15
60336
2345
01:02
cannot force me to marry.
16
62681
2182
01:05
No one in the world
17
65885
2369
01:08
can force me to marry.
18
68254
3296
01:11
I'll marry when I want.
19
71550
2949
01:14
Even if you beat me,
20
74499
2578
01:17
even if you chase me away,
21
77077
2670
01:19
even if you do anything bad to me,
22
79747
3181
01:22
I'll marry when I want.
23
82928
3436
01:26
I'll marry when I want,
24
86364
2903
01:29
but not before I am well educated,
25
89267
3738
01:33
and not before I am all grown up.
26
93005
4318
01:37
I'll marry when I want."
27
97323
2487
01:40
This poem might seem odd,
28
100831
2996
01:43
written by a 13-year-old girl,
29
103827
3529
01:47
but where I and Eileen come from,
30
107356
4783
01:52
this poem, which I have just read to you,
31
112139
3761
01:55
is a warrior's cry.
32
115900
3716
01:59
I am from Malawi.
33
119616
2925
02:03
Malawi is one of the poorest countries,
34
123191
3924
02:07
very poor,
35
127115
2879
02:09
where gender equality is questionable.
36
129994
4528
02:14
Growing up in that country,
37
134522
2322
02:16
I couldn't make my own choices in life.
38
136844
3251
02:20
I couldn't even explore
39
140095
2298
02:22
personal opportunities in life.
40
142393
2996
02:25
I will tell you a story
41
145389
2530
02:27
of two different girls,
42
147919
2462
02:30
two beautiful girls.
43
150381
3645
02:34
These girls grew up
44
154026
2554
02:36
under the same roof.
45
156580
2113
02:38
They were eating the same food.
46
158693
2717
02:41
Sometimes, they would share clothes,
47
161410
2763
02:44
and even shoes.
48
164173
2809
02:46
But their lives ended up differently,
49
166982
4667
02:51
in two different paths.
50
171649
1997
02:55
The other girl is my little sister.
51
175039
3715
02:58
My little sister was only 11 years old
52
178754
4923
03:03
when she got pregnant.
53
183677
2652
03:08
It's a hurtful thing.
54
188029
3713
03:13
Not only did it hurt her, even me.
55
193352
3281
03:16
I was going through a hard time as well.
56
196633
3599
03:20
As it is in my culture,
57
200232
3715
03:23
once you reach puberty stage,
58
203947
2995
03:26
you are supposed to go to initiation camps.
59
206942
3878
03:30
In these initiation camps,
60
210820
2298
03:33
you are taught how to sexually please a man.
61
213118
3855
03:36
There is this special day,
62
216973
1788
03:38
which they call "Very Special Day"
63
218761
3204
03:41
where a man who is hired by the community
64
221965
2554
03:44
comes to the camp
65
224519
2624
03:47
and sleeps with the little girls.
66
227143
2429
03:51
Imagine the trauma that these young girls
67
231252
2514
03:53
go through every day.
68
233766
2750
03:58
Most girls end up pregnant.
69
238766
3159
04:01
They even contract HIV and AIDS
70
241925
2617
04:04
and other sexually transmitted diseases.
71
244542
2340
04:07
For my little sister, she ended up being pregnant.
72
247692
4911
04:12
Today, she's only 16 years old
73
252603
4063
04:16
and she has three children.
74
256666
2996
04:19
Her first marriage did not survive,
75
259662
3645
04:23
nor did her second marriage.
76
263307
3297
04:26
On the other side, there is this girl.
77
266604
4177
04:31
She's amazing.
78
271341
1973
04:33
(Laughter)
79
273314
1904
04:35
(Applause)
80
275218
2945
04:39
I call her amazing because she is.
81
279723
2415
04:42
She's very fabulous.
82
282138
3065
04:45
That girl is me. (Laughter)
83
285203
3761
04:48
When I was 13 years old,
84
288964
3018
04:51
I was told, you are grown up,
85
291982
3414
04:55
you have now reached of age,
86
295396
2832
04:58
you're supposed to go to the initiation camp.
87
298228
3367
05:01
I was like, "What?
88
301595
2972
05:04
I'm not going to go to the initiation camps."
89
304567
3982
05:10
You know what the women said to me?
90
310349
2763
05:13
"You are a stupid girl. Stubborn.
91
313112
3622
05:16
You do not respect the traditions of our society, of our community."
92
316734
7267
05:24
I said no because I knew where I was going.
93
324001
3808
05:27
I knew what I wanted in life.
94
327809
2624
05:31
I had a lot of dreams as a young girl.
95
331773
2965
05:36
I wanted to get well educated,
96
336238
3645
05:39
to find a decent job in the future.
97
339883
2480
05:42
I was imagining myself as a lawyer,
98
342363
1759
05:44
seated on that big chair.
99
344122
2710
05:46
Those were the imaginations that
100
346832
2306
05:49
were going through my mind every day.
101
349138
3330
05:52
And I knew that one day,
102
352468
1834
05:54
I would contribute something, a little something to my community.
103
354302
4574
05:58
But every day after refusing,
104
358876
2531
06:01
women would tell me,
105
361407
2020
06:03
"Look at you, you're all grown up. Your little sister has a baby.
106
363427
3390
06:06
What about you?"
107
366817
1486
06:08
That was the music that I was hearing every day,
108
368303
4714
06:13
and that is the music that girls hear every day
109
373017
3877
06:16
when they don't do something that the community needs them to do.
110
376894
4149
06:23
When I compared the two stories between me and my sister,
111
383524
3924
06:27
I said, "Why can't I do something?
112
387448
4737
06:32
Why can't I change something that has happened for a long time
113
392185
5061
06:37
in our community?"
114
397246
2415
06:39
That was when I called other girls
115
399661
2508
06:42
just like my sister, who have children,
116
402169
2554
06:44
who have been in class but they have forgotten how to read and write.
117
404723
3464
06:48
I said, "Come on, we can remind each other
118
408187
2110
06:50
how to read and write again,
119
410297
2135
06:52
how to hold the pen, how to read, to hold the book."
120
412432
3808
06:56
It was a great time I had with them.
121
416240
3645
06:59
Nor did I just learn a little about them,
122
419885
4272
07:04
but they were able to tell me their personal stories,
123
424157
3437
07:07
what they were facing every day
124
427594
1811
07:09
as young mothers.
125
429405
2670
07:12
That was when I was like,
126
432075
1997
07:14
'Why can't we take all these things that are happening to us
127
434072
3924
07:17
and present them and tell our mothers, our traditional leaders,
128
437996
3877
07:21
that these are the wrong things?"
129
441873
1997
07:23
It was a scary thing to do,
130
443870
2067
07:25
because these traditional leaders,
131
445937
1973
07:27
they are already accustomed to the things
132
447910
2204
07:30
that have been there for ages.
133
450114
2440
07:32
A hard thing to change,
134
452554
1927
07:34
but a good thing to try.
135
454481
2624
07:37
So we tried.
136
457105
2252
07:39
It was very hard, but we pushed.
137
459357
2508
07:42
And I'm here to say that in my community,
138
462245
2864
07:45
it was the first community after girls
139
465109
2560
07:47
pushed so hard to our traditional leader,
140
467669
3367
07:51
and our leader stood up for us and said no girl has to be married
141
471036
4389
07:55
before the age of 18.
142
475425
2229
07:57
(Applause)
143
477654
3853
08:05
In my community,
144
485502
1741
08:07
that was the first time a community,
145
487243
2647
08:09
they had to call the bylaws,
146
489890
2461
08:12
the first bylaw that protected girls
147
492351
3507
08:15
in our community.
148
495858
2194
08:18
We did not stop there.
149
498052
1788
08:19
We forged ahead.
150
499840
2949
08:22
We were determined to fight for girls not just in my community,
151
502789
3854
08:26
but even in other communities.
152
506643
2786
08:29
When the child marriage bill was being presented in February,
153
509429
4133
08:33
we were there at the Parliament house.
154
513562
3646
08:37
Every day, when the members of Parliament were entering,
155
517208
4086
08:41
we were telling them, "Would you please support the bill?"
156
521294
3089
08:44
And we don't have much technology like here,
157
524383
4759
08:49
but we have our small phones.
158
529142
1997
08:51
So we said, "Why can't we get their numbers and text them?"
159
531139
5030
08:56
So we did that. It was a good thing.
160
536178
3250
08:59
(Applause)
161
539428
2020
09:01
So when the bill passed, we texted them back,
162
541448
2973
09:04
"Thank you for supporting the bill."
163
544421
2428
09:06
(Laughter)
164
546849
1070
09:07
And when the bill was signed by the president,
165
547919
3345
09:11
making it into law, it was a plus.
166
551264
3366
09:14
Now, in Malawi, 18 is the legal marriage age, from 15 to 18.
167
554630
5852
09:20
(Applause)
168
560482
3645
09:26
It's a good thing to know that the bill passed,
169
566495
3576
09:30
but let me tell you this:
170
570071
3042
09:33
There are countries where 18 is the legal marriage age,
171
573113
4388
09:37
but don't we hear cries of women and girls every day?
172
577501
4272
09:41
Every day, girls' lives are being wasted away.
173
581773
5643
09:47
This is high time for leaders to honor their commitment.
174
587416
6454
09:53
In honoring this commitment,
175
593870
2369
09:56
it means keeping girls' issues at heart every time.
176
596239
5712
10:01
We don't have to be subjected as second,
177
601951
3761
10:05
but they have to know that women, as we are in this room,
178
605712
4238
10:09
we are not just women, we are not just girls,
179
609950
3050
10:13
we are extraordinary.
180
613000
1980
10:14
We can do more.
181
614980
1913
10:16
And another thing for Malawi,
182
616893
2995
10:19
and not just Malawi but other countries:
183
619888
2902
10:22
The laws which are there,
184
622790
3785
10:26
you know how a law is not a law until it is enforced?
185
626575
5851
10:32
The law which has just recently passed
186
632426
3413
10:35
and the laws that in other countries have been there,
187
635839
2624
10:38
they need to be publicized at the local level,
188
638463
3924
10:42
at the community level,
189
642387
2183
10:44
where girls' issues are very striking.
190
644570
5386
10:49
Girls face issues, difficult issues, at the community level every day.
191
649956
4760
10:55
So if these young girls know that there are laws that protect them,
192
655274
5085
11:00
they will be able to stand up and defend themselves
193
660359
2786
11:03
because they will know that there is a law that protects them.
194
663145
3671
11:09
And another thing I would say is that
195
669254
4109
11:13
girls' voices and women's voices
196
673363
4598
11:17
are beautiful, they are there,
197
677961
2763
11:20
but we cannot do this alone.
198
680724
3181
11:23
Male advocates, they have to jump in,
199
683905
2670
11:26
to step in and work together.
200
686575
1950
11:28
It's a collective work.
201
688525
2578
11:31
What we need is what girls elsewhere need:
202
691103
2740
11:33
good education, and above all, not to marry whilst 11.
203
693843
5758
11:42
And furthermore,
204
702085
2868
11:44
I know that together,
205
704953
3065
11:48
we can transform the legal,
206
708018
3948
11:51
the cultural and political framework
207
711966
3169
11:55
that denies girls of their rights.
208
715135
4771
11:59
I am standing here today
209
719906
5058
12:04
and declaring that we can end child marriage in a generation.
210
724964
7040
12:12
This is the moment
211
732677
2183
12:14
where a girl and a girl, and millions of girls worldwide,
212
734860
4434
12:19
will be able to say,
213
739294
2601
12:21
"I will marry when I want."
214
741895
3204
12:25
(Applause)
215
745099
3045
12:35
Thank you. (Applause)
216
755284
1935
About this website

This site will introduce you to YouTube videos that are useful for learning English. You will see English lessons taught by top-notch teachers from around the world. Double-click on the English subtitles displayed on each video page to play the video from there. The subtitles scroll in sync with the video playback. If you have any comments or requests, please contact us using this contact form.

https://forms.gle/WvT1wiN1qDtmnspy7