International Day of the Girl: 5 amazing girls who are changing the world

International Day of the Girl: 5 amazing girls who are changing the world

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International Day of the Girl is all about promoting girls’ rights, talking about the inequalities that still exist between girls and boys, but also celebrating the incredible things girls around the world are achieving.

Check out 5 of our girl heroes who are shaking things up in a BIG way:

1. Malala Yousafzai

Malala is only 18 but has lived quite a life already, having survived been shot by the Taliban on her way to school three years ago. The attack led Pakistan to create its first ever Right to Education Bill which is dedicated to providing free and compulsory education to all children of aged five to sixteen years.

In 2014, Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in fighting for every child’s right to education – the youngest person ever to be given the honor.

She recently supported our Poverty is Sexist campaign by posting her own #strengthie to show she stands #WithStrongGirls everywhere.

2. Eva Tolage

Malinzanga, Tanzania - 2014-12-15 Eva Tolange, 14, poses for a portrait at Malinzanga Primary School in Malinzanga, Tanzania, on December 15, 2014. Photo by Daniel Hayduk

Eva Tolage, 14 at Malinzanga Primary School, Tanzania.Photo: Daniel Hayduk/ONE

14 year old Eva Tolage from Tanzania is one of our heroes for getting through to President Obama after writing to him to demand MORE international action to beat extreme poverty in her village and around the world.   She wrote about the challenges of hunger, corruption, and getting access to education, clean water and electricity in her community and those like it around the world. As well as the added challenges of being a girl. Watch President Obama responding to her at the UN General Assembly!

3. Blessing Nwafor

Blessing recording her rap for Tell Everybody

Blessing recording for ‘Strong Girl’ Photo: Mike Turner Photography/ONE.

When some of Africa’s biggest female artists came together in Johannesburg to write and record the ‘Strong Girl’ track for ONE, they visited the Makeba Centre for Girls to understand some of the challenges facing young women in South Africa today.

One of the girls they met was Blessing – a 14 year old with a talent for rapping and big ambitions to start a music career.  The artists invited her to join them in the studio the next day and be part of the track – she wrote her own lyrics and instantly became an essential part of the Strong Girl family.

Blessing said: “In the townships of South Africa it’s hard for girls. There is poverty, abuse, and it’s difficult for girls to stand up for themselves. I know first-hand that poverty is sexist, and that our leaders have to do more to support girls and women. Because when they are allowed to reach their full potential, girls and women lift their families, communities and even whole countries out of poverty faster.”

Go Blessing! Check her out in the Strong Girl song:

4. Fahma Mohamed

Anti-FGM campaigner, Fahma Mohamed. Jessica Lea/DFID

Anti-FGM campaigner, Fahma Mohamed. Jessica Lea/DFID

Fahma Mohamed has just turned 18 but can count UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as one of her supporters. She has campaigned against female genital mutilation (FGM) since she was 14, and successfully lobbied the education secretary in the UK to write to all schools about safeguarding girls from the practice.

But her efforts went on to have a far wider reach. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon heard about the teenager and praised her for the “creative and courageous” EndFGM campaign:

I will spare nothing, I will mobilise all UN tools and agencies to help promote this campaign. This is part of making women’s voices heard and giving them the right to protect themselves.Whatever the UN can do to help the campaign we will spare no efforts.

– Ban Ki Moon

Fahma replied: “We are trying to get people to see that education is key and through it we can stop the cycle of abuse. It means so much to us to have your support.”

5. Judi Lerumbe

Judi Lerumbe at Umoja.

Judi Lerumbe. Photo: Siegfried Modola/ONE

Judi escaped child marriage in Kenya by fleeing with her mother to join Umoja – a community of 48 women in the plains of Samburu County in northern Kenya.

“I came here with my stepmother when I was 15 years old. My father wanted to marry me to a much older man but I was a young girl at the time. I remember how my stepmother refused my father’s wishes.”

After Judi and her mother fled, Judi was able to go to school. “I learned English that I use to communicate with tourists when they visit us. I am able to teach them about the Samburu way of life. This is very important.”

Today Judi works in a museum the community has set up, attracting tourists who can stay on the campsite they have created, which allows the women in the community be in control of their own lives.

World leaders have just made 17 big promises to the world – the Global Goals.  One of these is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.  

Stand #WithStrongGirls like these, and tell leaders you want to see them turn words into action. 

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