They go to work while boys their age stay in school.
They go hungry while their brothers are fed.
They are subject to rape, violence and exploitation.
Why? Because they are girls.
At just 14, Len had already seen too much. Growing up in a small village on the outskirts of Siem Riep in Cambodia was not easy.
“Sometimes my family didn’t have enough to eat, and very little money,” says Len, now 19.
When Len was just eight, she was forced to leave school to go to work on a farm to help her parents earn money. Eventually, Len returned to school – but by then she’d missed out on so much schoolwork that she had to repeat the year. At 14, she left school altogether. “I wanted to study more and learn more,” she says. “I was always wishing I was back at school.”
After that, it was a life of hard labour for Len. As a young teenager, she woke at 5am and worked in a rice field for 12 long hours each day, all for a meagre $US1 a day.
At home, things went from bad to worse. Len’s father, who was an alcoholic, began to beat her and her mother. One day, Len took her few belongings and left the family home in search of a better life. Thanks to our supporters, she found it.
Sadly, girls in developing countries face unique barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their incredible potential. Poor access to education, violence, child marriage and gender discrimination are just some of the things that keep girls stuck in a life of poverty. By implementing innovative programs, and engaging in strategic advocacy, Plan International is committed to breaking down these barriers and ensuring all girls have the opportunity to learn, lead, decide and thrive.