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Girls Acting as Leaders of Paraguay Government Demand Equality

ASUNCION – A teenage girl took the role Tuesday as president of Paraguay, while her fellow students acted as high officials of other institutions such as Congress and the Foreign Ministry, and in their symbolic positions demanded respect for their rights and greater equality between men and women both in public and private organizations, as part of activities of International Day of the Girl.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes temporarily handed over his position as head of state to a girl, and named others as ministers of his Cabinet, in an event held at Government Palace in Asuncion.

Cartes welcomed the “girl ministers” and expressed on Twitter his hopes that “they might grow up safe from violence and with an equality of opportunities,”

Meanwhile the two houses of the Paraguayan Congress and various ministers spent several hours under orders from girls from different parts of the country, in a project organized by the NGO Plan International and the National Secretariat for the Childhood and Adolescence of Girls, or SNNA.

The project, called “Girls to Power,” includes as part of its mission the dramatizing of girls’ rights, sending a message against the discrimination they suffer, and demanding equality of opportunity and parity between sexes in the country’s institutions, as the girls themselves said.

“Women have only a 22 percent participation in legislatures worldwide, and that’s not half, not even a third, so that’s why we’re asking for gender equity,” Marcela, from the northern province of San Pedro, told a press conference, after being named by Cartes this Tuesday as the symbolic head of the Information and Communications Secretariat, or Sicom.

For her part, 16-year-old Gloria from the central province of Guaira became this Tuesday speaker of the Paraguayan Senate, and told EFE that during her brief time in office she aims “to show that women can also lead and occupy positions of power.”

Both she and Eliana, 17, from the northern Paraguayan province of San Pedro and who was temporarily a Senator, said the most worrying problems facing Paraguayan girls these days are “pregnancy and lack of education.”

Gloria insisted on “more training, information and orientation” to prevent minors from getting pregnant in a country where two girls between ages 10-14 give birth every day, mostly as a result of sexual abuse.

“Girls are capable, they have intelligence and strength, and we have to open the way for them and give them the chance to write a new and much more hopeful history,” Mariella Greco, director of Plan International for Paraguay, told a press conference.

“Girls can dream other dreams that have nothing to do with the stereotypes they are fed all around them,” Greco said.


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