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Overcoming barriers as an indigenous girl

Girls around the world face unique challenges that keep them out of school. For indigenous girls, additional prejudices make breaking the cycle of poverty even more difficult.

Life as an indigenous girl

A teenage girl leans against the exterior wall of a house.

Mayra, 17, is speaking out for indigenous girls everywhere.

Mayra, 17, comes from an indigenous community in Guatemala, where girls are the least educated, and the most vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse, discrimination and child marriage.

"When people see us, they discriminate against us, they do not respect what we say,” shared Mayra. “As an indigenous girl, we are victims of harassment, but we don’t know how to stop it, so we learn to live with it.”

With these negative influences, it’s hard for the girls in the community to see a brighter future.

Many challenges to face

For Mayra, the desire to go to school is important, but after completing primary school, she didn’t know whether she’d be able to continue her studies. Two of her older sisters married young and left home – the norm for girls in her community.

“Many girls do not continue with their education because their parents want them to stay at home and look after the house. They believe girls should just get married, do chores and have children,” Mayra explained.

A future with education

Two teenage girls face each other while talking.

Mayra with one of her sisters.

At first, Mayra thought she should follow the same path as her sisters and other girls from school, but realized that without an education she “would never get anywhere.”

She started taking part in youth groups that were established in her community with Plan International's support. She gained communication skills and confidence, and started speaking out about children’s rights.

When Mayra received a scholarship from Plan to help continue her education, she shared: “Studying is what makes me happy. I dream about obtaining a degree in social work. Then, I will be able to help other girls in similar situations.”

Speaking out for others

With her passion and determination, Mayra represented Plan International at a global summit in the U.K., where she brought her story, experiences and thoughts to an international audience. She is able to look forward to a brighter future and wants other indigenous girls to have the same opportunity. By continuing to use her voice, Mayra is well on her way to making a difference for others just like her.

Help change a girl’s future by providing a scholarship!