No girl dreams of a future where she’s married as a child, denied the right to an education or infected with a preventable disease by a husband she didn’t choose. But this is the reality for millions of girls living in extreme poverty. And it’s time to call it out for what it is: sexist.
This International Day of the Girl, we are celebrating Phiona, Dieynaba, and a group of girls called The Restorers, who are breaking down sexist barriers in their communities, and fighting for every girl to have the future she deserves in all kinds of different ways!
At age nine, Phiona had to leave school because her family could not afford her school fees. Shortly after, she found her calling in a chess program at the Sports Outreach Institute. By 2012, she became a three-time junior girls’ champion of Uganda and an internationally recognised chess prodigy!
Does this sound familiar? You may recognise Phiona’s story from the 2016 film Queen of Katwe! Phiona’s achievements continued after the release of the movie. She’s now earning her university degree in the United States and empowering other girls in her Ugandan community where she’s started a girls-only chess clinic.
Dieynaba has been passionate about art ever since she was a kid. Many people, including her mother, believed that women should not be allowed to paint. Instead of backing down, Dieynaba pursued her passion and became Senegal’s first female graffiti artist!
Dieynaba uses her art to promote women’s rights and challenge the sexist barriers they face. Her art creates powerful messages that inspire solidarity and help people understand how women are marginalised. She believes graffiti is a powerful tool for social change.
“All women, everywhere, whether they are fishmongers, graffiti artists or office workers, we are all fighters,” she says.
The Restorers (Stacy Owino, Purity Achieng, Ivy Akinyi, Synthia Otieno and Macrine Atien) have seen the damage caused in their community by female genital mutilation (FGM). Determined to end FGM and “restore hope to hopeless girls,” these teenagers created the mobile app I-cut, which provides girls with information on rescue centres before undergoing FGM, plus legal and medical help for girls who are already cut.
“FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve,” says Stacy Owino, one of the team’s members.
The app earned the Restorers a finalist spot at the 2017 international Technovation competition. The competition recognises mobile apps designed by girls to solve issues in their communities. With their app, the Restorers have taken a big step towards ending FGM for good.
This isn’t the reality for all girls though. Watch our new video to learn more about the shocking reality girls face every day: