Our future depends on the girl aged 10

19 October 2016
"I want to have a job as a banker and support my family and children." - Vanessa Banda, 10. © UNFPA / Henry Chimbali

When a girl reaches age 10, her world changes – where she ends up depends on the support she receives and the power she has to shape her own future.

There are 620 million adolescent girls in East and Southern Africa. Many of them are affected by harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage, early and unplanned pregnancies, HIV, poor access to health care and limited education.

Now imagine if we set each girl free of all of these chains. Because when girls are free to define their lives and enjoy their rights, they not only enjoy better health and healthier children; they are better able to contribute to national development, helping their countries reap the demographic dividend and driving economic growth. 

When a girl prospers, everyone stands to benefit!

To illustrate the importance of the girl at ten, we feature here the lives of girls from the East and Southern Africa region.

Christine Lokel, 10, Dodoth, Uganda

I like running. I like my sister Aciro because she knows how to wash and cook delicious food. More than that, Aciro also politely greets my mother every morning. I want to become a doctor and treat the sick. I would like to see the people of the world in good health.

Anne Takaal, 10, Dodoth, Uganda

I like science. I run. I cook at home and I play the Adungu (arched harp). My friend Maria Modo treats me with respect and I love it. I want to be a doctor and treat the poor for free. I will marry at 25 and have 7 children. I want good health for all.

Maria Modo, 10, Dodoth, Uganda

I like running and cooking. I like my sister Lina Teko. She washes my clothes and cooks food for me. My friend Anne Ikaal is also very good. She helps my mother to do housework. I want to become a teacher and educate my community. I want quality education for my community.

Laura Mary Nakeel, 10, Dodoth, Uganda

I like running and music. I play the Okeme (thump piano). I cook, fetch water and wash clothes at home. I like my friend Gloria because she is kind and gives me good advice. She also buys me soap. I want to become a teacher and build a community school in my area. I will marry at 23 and have 6 kids. I want quality education.

Gloria Natyang, 10, Dodoth, Uganda

I like science. I want to be a nurse and treat the sick. I love my sister Sylvia because she buys me clothes. I like my friend Laura. She gives me books and pens. I will marry at 28 and have 5 children. I want quality education for all.

Hope Mary Mudong, 10, Dodoth, Uganda

I like singing. I like my friend Faith Loru because we play together. I want to be a nurse and treat everybody in our community. I will marry at 40 and produce 3 children. I want clean water and sanitation.

Faith Loru, 10

I’m in P2 at Kangole Girls Primary School, Napak. I like English and bathing my young sisters and brothers at home. I want to be like my teacher Samson Longola. He is wise. I will first build a big house for my parents and get married when I’m 30. I want to have seven kids. I want good health and well-being in the world.

Grace Amei, 10

I want to be a pilot. I like English and athletics. I only have two sisters. My best friend is Grace Putan. We play together. I will marry at 25, have five kids and give them quality education.

Mary Goret Aleper, 10

I like singing and playing netball. I like playing with my brother, Linus Okol. I want to be a nurse and treat my community. I will marry at 27 and have three kids. I want gender equality.

Vanessa Banda: Sadiki Village, Malawi

My name is Vanessa Banda. I am in standard five. I enjoy Science subjects including Agriculture, Chichewa and English. I am able to read and write.

After I knock off from school, I like to study, cook and wash plates at home, as well as sweep the surroundings of our house. I like to play netball with my friends. At times, I go swimming because our village is (situated) on a lake.

In my family, there are five children – two boys and three girls. All my brothers and sisters are in school. I want to finish school and go to college. I have two close friends.

One day, I want to get married – but only when I am 20 years old – and eventually have children. I want to have three children and have a family.

By the time I will be 25 years old, I want to go and live in Kasungu district because that is where my grandmother now stays and I want to go there too. I want to have a job as a banker and support my family and children.

Bander Chiputura: Mahuwe, Mbire district, Mashonaland Central province, Zimbabwe


My name is Bander. I am in grade 4. I enjoy maths the most. I can write but I can’t read yet.

When I’m not at school, I like to help my Mum, especially to do her chores; doing the dishes, sweeping the house and going down to the river to get water. With my friends I like to play house and then we go to the Sista2Sista club (a UNFPA girls’ empowerment programme).

There are five children in my family, one boy and four girls. I’m the youngest. There are just the two of us who are not yet married. I’m the only one going to school – everyone else is finished school.

I have lots of friends who are all girls. I have a best friend and she’s ten years old. We help each other out and show each other what’s right and wrong. I want to stay in school until I finish and then get a good job and earn money. I want to become a nurse.

I heard that you can get married when you’re 19 or older. So I want to get married when I’m a little older, at 20. Until then if boys want to touch me I’m not going to let them touch me because I am not old enough!

I want to have two kids.

When I’m 25 I will really be starting to get old, like a kachembere (old woman)! I’ll be working hard to send my kids to school and taking care of my parents. My kids will be learning in school and when they come home from school I will be teaching them even more.

I will be living in Glenara near Mazoe (about 430 kilometres from Mbire). I want to live there because there are lots of farms growing crops and there is lots of food – all you can eat! If you work and live there you are allowed to pick anything from the fields and eat it. When you look at that place, the scenery is really breathtaking. Your senses come alive there! 

Rumbidzai Gondani, 10, Mashonaland Central province, Zimbabwe

I am in school in Grade 2. I like Shona [local language] and English. I can write but I can only read a little bit because I am just learning.

When I’m not in school I’m at home helping around the house; doing the dishes and sweeping the floors and the yard. I also play ball with my friends. I like to play hopscotch; that’s my favourite game. I also play the drums for the Jerusulema dance group, part of the Sista2Sista club [UNFPA girls’ empowerment programme].

There are seven children in my family, and I am the youngest. Some of my brothers and sisters are married, one is in grade 0 and three are in primary school.

I want to finish school and become a nurse.

My best friend is eight years old. At break time we sit together, we share our food and eat together, then we walk home together.

I think I would want to get married when I am 30. I want to have one child.

I will be old at 25! I will be working as a nurse and taking care of my parents. I will also probably be teaching other local kids like in the Sista2Sista club.

By Prossy Nakanjako, Martha Songa, Evelyn Kiapi, Henry Chimbali, Margret Masanga and Victoria Walshe