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A 16-year-old women's rights defender's social media journey

By Shannon Sogavare, Solomon Islands



Hello! My name is Shannon Sogavare and I'm from Solomon islands (Choiseul & Malaita Province) I'm 16 years old and currently studying in Betikama adventist college doing my grade 11. Growing up as a little girl, my life was an open book to social media. I started making accounts in many social medias when I was in grade 6, but mainly "Facebook" which was common back in those days. I used social media (Facebook) during that time just for fun, scrolling through the news feed and chatting with friends and family. But it wasn't until in grade 9 when I realized that social media can definitely be used to make an impact in your own country or even the world. When I was in grade 9, my Dad became the prime minister of Solomon islands and just like every daughter supporting their fathers, I always protect my father from criticisms from people.

I was different from the rest of my family members, I was the type of girl that don't want people to ruin my family's reputation.

Not until I realized that it wasn't a personal issue, it was the countries issue that I had to accept since my father was the prime minister and receiving criticisms from people is definitely expected. But one thing I realized was that my voice was heard by people. Some respected it while others don't but at the end, it's a democratic country and people have their own opinions about issues relating to the nation's affairs. At a very young age, I was interested in stuff like debates and speech competitions and I won multiple award for that, all credit to God for giving me the gift of public speaking and also the courage. Not forgetting my teachers in my Former school (King George the sixth) for developing my interest in public speaking.

In the year 2019, I followed up two issues that definitely motivated me and pushed me to raise my voice on.

Firstly, earlier that year I searched through the internet for Best Female Actors and suddenly I saw this beautiful young lady that popped up in my search. "Emma Watson". So I searched for her in the internet and her background says that she was a feminist and advocator for women.

I did my research more about her and saw this very beautiful speech that she had shared on the "HeForShe" campaign which is mainly based on females rights and I admired her courage to speak up on issues that obviously most females are affected on. So I got motivated by it and gathered information about females rights and tried using my small social media platform to raise my voice on females rights especially trying to balance it with cultures/customs in a country which those two are mainly the building blocks which unites the country and people.

At a certain time that year I also saw these articles about Human rights which keeps popping up in my news feed. Talking about human rights, we're covering everybody, Men and Women. It was the issue about the "Free west Papua" campaign that was active at that year. I've seen very cruel treatments on our brothers and sisters in West Papua and tried finding a better solution for it and how I could raise my voice about it. So I also started using my social media platform to advocate on that very serious issue that is affecting human race.

I don't have a qualification of an advocator. I'm just a grade 11 student in Betikama Adventist College trying to raise her voice on issues that is believed to be affecting the world and yes, I'll gladly say that my voice has been heard.

An advice to young girls/boys - you don't need a qualification or a big job to fight or raise your voice for what you think is right for your people/country/world.

You can start off by raising your voice on that small social media platform you have. Believe that you can, and you will!!