Yours in Power
Introducing our new short film series. Three women’s rights activists share a letter they’ve written to their younger selves to help them discover the power they have to change the world.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Melene Rossow grew up on the Cape Flats of South Africa. Inspired by her mother’s fight for gender equality, she became determined to fight for the rights of women and girls through elevating their voices.
In 2009, she became an Attorney in the High Court of South Africa. She is also the founder of the Women Lead Movement, where she runs seminars to teach women about human rights, leadership, campaigning, and democratic power. Her goal is to empower women to be leaders for change in their communities and hold governments accountable to protect and secure women’s rights.
She sees the tough road to equality ahead. Luckily, she is up for the challenge: “Restructuring our world so that women may flourish is going to be a tough job. But you will fight because you believe that gender equality and justice must be achieved.”
As a young girl, Dr. Joannie Bewa experienced the fear and challenge of medical issues first-hand when she almost died from an asthma attack. Now, inspired by the doctor who treated her as a child, she views that experience as the beginning of her journey to becoming an award-winning physician.
From her home in the Benin Republic, she is advocating for every woman to have access to health services. She founded the Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA), which has provided over 10,000 youth with HIV/AIDS awareness. YBLA has also trained more than 3,000 girls and women on sexual and reproductive health, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
Ultimately, she hopes to create “a world where no woman will die while giving birth. A world where every woman has access to health services and quality education.”
Wadi Ben-Hirki, like many young girls, grew up being told that she should be “seen and not heard.” The gender discrimination she faced as a kid became the source of her strength, inspiring her to take action and advocate for equality.
She founded the Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation at only 17 years old. Her foundation educates marginalized communities, including women and youths, on how to be advocates for the issues that affect them. On top of her work with the foundation, she collaborates with other youth advocates as a ONE Champion.
Her fight against poverty, illiteracy, and child marriage aims to create a society of equal opportunities for all. She hopes that her activism and her story will enable others to achieve their goals and live freely.