While it was first officially declared by the United Nations in 1975, commemoration of International Women’s Day actually stretches back over a century. Every year, the tradition continues as we come together and celebrate the vital role women play in communities both locally and globally.
Mesi decided to join a girls’ group where she learned about the dangers of transactional sex as well as her precious identity as a daughter of God.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we want to tell you the story of Mesi*, a 17-year-old girl from a village in Malawi. A few years ago, Mesi had to drop out of school because her family could no longer afford to pay her school fees. To help her family out financially, she began to work at a local market. While she was selling at the market, Mesi was pressured into sleeping with customers as a way to earn extra money for her family. While she did not want to capitulate to this pressure, she saw other girls who worked at the market engaging in transactional sex, and it seemed to be the best solution to create enough income.
Then Mesi discovered a World Renew and Word Alive girls' group (see a video at this link!) in her village, and decided to join. Through the girls' group she learned about the dangers of transactional sex as well as her precious identity as a daughter of God.
Mesi decided to make some changes in her behavior. The group encouraged her to go back to school, and she was able to enroll in Standard 8 (8th grade). She excelled at this grade level and was later selected to attend a secondary school. While most would be overjoyed by the opportunity, Mesi cried because she did not have enough money to pay for the school fees she needed to advance.
When the girls and mentors from her group heard the news, however, they decided to use money they saved from selling their produce and helped with Mesi’s school fees. Now, Mesi is in secondary school where she shares her goal: “I will be a nurse one day.”
Around the globe, not all girls like Mesi have the opportunity to leave transactional sex. Many girls continue to be trapped in this practice as they try to help provide income for their families’ basic costs.
You can help.
Change the stories of 100 mothers and their daughters through our Free A Family program. Community programs in agriculture, health, nutrition, literacy, and gender justice create the stability needed to prevent girls from having to turn to transactional sex, and help them become equipped to change their own stories for the better.
*to protect her identity and safety, we are not using Mesi's real name