OctobHER Feature: How Girls in Kenya, Uganda, and Vietnam are Leading Our World
In celebration of International Day of the Girl on October 11, Global G.L.O.W. is inviting you to join #OctobHER: International Month of the Girl. We’re dedicating an entire month to celebrating girls and their stories. Because when girls speak out, their voices have the power to create change.
Every day, in communities around the world, girls are taking action to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. We’d like to introduce you to three of these girls —Stephanie, Faith, and Duyen —GLOW Girls from different communities, but united by the common goal of creating a more gender-equal world.
We hope their stories, captured in their own words below, inspire you to invest in girls’ leadership today.
Stephanie, age 14 from Kenya
Many girls in Stephanie’s community in Kenya struggle to receive education, overcome period stigma, and challenge gender norms. After learning about the power of girls in GLOW Club, Stephanie realized that girls in her school faced another challenge: lack of access to leadership positions.
Stephanie and her friends identified that girls at their school were not being nominated by school administrators to hold school leadership positions. Knowing that several girls, including herself, were capable and qualified to be leaders, Stephanie boldly approached the school’s headmaster (principal) to advocate for herself and other girls.
Inspired by her confidence, the headmaster nominated girls for leadership positions. Because of Stephanie’s advocacy, several of her female classmates were selected through a school-wide election to be class representatives, and even school presidents!
Stephanie knows that girls have the potential to lead. Her message to other other girls is this: “Girls, do not be afraid. Stand up for your rights. You can be anyone you want. As long as you want to do it, you will become the person you want to be.”
Faith, age 11 from Uganda
In Uganda, 11-year-old Faith is speaking out about consent and bodily autonomy. When Faith was younger, she didn’t know that she had the right to say ‘no’ to an older person or man. Through participating in GLOW Club, she now understands that expressing personal boundaries is the right of every girl, no matter how young.
By advocating for her rights, Faith has developed confidence and learned how to believe in herself and her capabilities. She now recognizes her value as a girl, and recently became a class leader at her school — something she previously didn’t know girls could do.
Faith wants other girls to remember that when girls stand together, they build collective power to fight for their rights.
Her message to girls is this: “Don’t be afraid to say what you want. Have self-esteem and be confident. Don’t give into peer pressure. Don’t allow others to make decisions for you. Say ‘no’ when people try to get you to do things that are wrong. Make decisions that protect yourself. Girls, know your rights.”
Duyen, age 14, from Vietnam
Duyen has been shaped by the sacrificial love of her mother. After her father experienced a work accident, Duyen’s mother became the primary breadwinner supporting the family. Her mother’s perseverance showed Duyen that women and girls can do anything — including work that is traditionally done by men.
Her mother’s strength, and the mentorship she received in GLOW Club, allowed Duyen to recognize how inferior and disempowered many girls her age feel. She noticed that girls at school were often too shy to speak up and share their ideas in class. Duyen mentors them to know their worth and the importance of their voice. She encourages them to raise their hands, speak up when they know the answers, and implement projects that support their school and their community.
Duyen plans to use the lessons she’s learned from GLOW Club to achieve her dream of becoming a psychologist. She understands that girls are resilient and that the best future we can advocate for is one with girls leading our world.
Her message to other girls is this: “Find your own strength. Create your own opportunities. We are girls. We can stand up and fight for what we love, for our families, and for our communities.”
Special thanks to Ready for Reading, Art of a Child, and Giving It Back To Kids, who operate Global G.L.O.W. programming in safe, small group after-school sessions for Stephanie, Faith, Duyen, and other youth participants with trusted local mentors.
Global G.L.O.W. mentors girls around the world to become powerful advocates and confident leaders. Since inception, our signature program, GLOW Club, has ignited over 91,000 girls to increase their confidence, strengthen their voice, and build their power. Support our work at globalgirlsglow.org/donate.