Back when I was in school, like any other school kid of my age, summer vacations used to be the time I would eagerly look forward to. This used to be the time when I would go back to my grandparents’ village, meet some amazing people and get to know other kids. As I was growing up, I noticed that the privilege that I had wasn’t something that other girls in the village enjoyed and that was the privilege of education, freedom and independence.
Around 3 years back, I stumbled upon one of the TED talks titled “Unlock the intelligence, passion and greatness of girls” by the Nobel peace prize winner, Leymah Gbowee. Like almost all of the TED talks, this one was exceptional in its content and message. In this talk, Leymah Gbowee shares her experience of working across Liberia and how kids, in general, and girls specifically, are living in a world of want and fear almost all around the world. I could instantly relate to it, with my own experiences of teaching the young girls during the summer vacations I used to spend at my grandparents’. This talk went on to become my inspiration for the days to come and reinstated something that I have always believed in – the role of communities in tapping into the unfathomable potential of young girls.
Leymah, a Nobel Peace Laureate, has lead various women’s peace movements in Africa. During her work, she met many girls in different parts of Liberia and the poor treatment meted to young girls followed her everywhere. She expresses her sorrow of coming across teen girls who were stuck in sex work, those who have been raped by their family members and who have been condemned in society because they are educated. In the talk, she also expresses her discontent and disappointment on United Nations’ failure in creating a safe society for girls and women, despite a Millennium Development Goal that was focused on girls and a convention on the rights of the child.
Affected by all these atrocities on girls, she started the Young Girls Transformative Project where she goes into rural communities to create spaces for discussions and exploration on issues pertaining to girls and their sufferings. She urges on how such spaces could go a long way in unlocking intelligence, passion, commitment, focus, and great leaders of tomorrow. She shares her belief of putting trust in the immense potential that girls all over the world have in transforming this world around us into a much safer and happier place to be in.