In Mexico, one in four girls will marry before her 18th birthday  — but Sydney refuses to be one of them. 

“In my community, if one girl goes to school and fails,” says Sydney, a 15-year-old from Oaxaca, “she is used as an example to show other girls why they should not even try to get an education.”

Failure was never an option for Sydney. She values her education because the women in her life were never given the opportunity. By the time her grandmother was her age, she was already married.

While laws in Mexico guarantee education for every girl, it remains out of reach for many girls across the country — particularly for girls in Oaxaca. Throughout Latin America, poverty and restrictive gender roles keep too many girls out of school.

Sydney hopes more girls in her village will recognise that girls belong in the classroom and can be leaders in the workforce. To encourage girls to advocate for themselves, she speaks on a local radio programme called “The Voice of Women.”

After graduating, Sydney plans to study medicine in university and become the first pediatrician in her town. When that day arrives, her community will make an example of her — this is what happens when a girl tries her hardest.

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