“Imagine you are a letter traveling through time. What message do you wish to convey to your readers?”
This is the theme of the Universal Postal Unions Letter writing contest for 2018. Winners will be announced today. All week is International Letter Writing Week, which was started by the UPU as a way to foster mutual understanding among people all around the world. Today is World Post Day.
I am participating in International Letter Writing Week as a way to promote connection; however, it can also be an opportunity to advocate on your own causes. Below is the powerfully elegant letter that last year’s winner, 14-year-old Eva of Togo wrote on behalf of girls who are forced into marriages against their consent. it was in response to this theme:
“Imagine you are an advisor to the new UN Secretary-General which world issue would you help him tackle first and how would you advise him to solve it?”
Her identity is concealed in the letter but Kudos to her for understanding the power of a single letter. Perhaps it will inspire you and I look forward to the announcement of this year’s winner.
UN Secretary General
Dear Secretary General,
My name is [E], I am [age] years old and I live in [City], [Country]. Just like any other young girl, I dream of the perfect wedding, with a dazzling white dress and the perfect gentleman by my side, of an unending buffet and throwing my bouquet, and of two wedding rings that are more beautiful than diamonds. I dream of the perfect wedding, but it’s only a dream as I have all the time in the world before I get married, and for that I am happy! It is just a dream for me, but for others it is a horrific reality. Every day it becomes a reality for poor young girls who cannot defend themselves. Each year, more than 15 million girls aged 15 and under are forced to marry men three times their age.
No doubt you have understood, Mr Secretary General, that today I would like to talk to you about child marriage.
Child marriage is the act of marrying a child who has neither legally nor emotionally reached marriageable age. Child marriage is the result of deep-rooted traditions, poverty, ignorance, early pregnancy or a lack of law. Underdeveloped and poor countries are often the most affected, and the victims are usually girls aged 15 and under. They are married to build strategic alliances and partnerships with other families. They are married because of tradition, which leaves their parents with no choice in the matter. They are married because they are seen as a burden and another mouth for their parents to feed. They are married because…because…because…
The solution, the only solution to child marriage, is education. Education allows the children of today, who will be the adults of tomorrow, to understand that age-old traditions which instruct them to marry off their daughters are unfair, and that poverty is no excuse, especially when the men are far too old for them. But education is not possible without means, without money. Underdeveloped countries are often poor, lacking the means to build good education facilities and recruit qualified teachers. They settle for low-performing schools. Aid to underdeveloped countries must, therefore, be increased, so these countries can make up lost ground in terms of both their educators and their infrastructure. But for now, these countries must be encouraged to strengthen their laws against child marriage. When families end up in court for having married their child too young, they are often released without charge as they can bribe the judge or police officer. Not to mention how the legal system can often be much too lenient in these types of cases. And ironically, although it was a lack of money that drove them to marry off their daughter in the first place, parents then have to find the money to bribe the legal authorities. They are trapped in a vicious circle and only you,
Mr Secretary General, have the power to help them break free today.
Mr Secretary General, I hope that my small contribution will help you as you plan your work for the years to come, and that you manage to end once and for all the inhumane and outdated practice that is child marriage.
Who will you send a letter to this week?