There is a universal call to action to create a sustainable world for all of us ~ a world where there is no poverty, where peace and prosperity are the preserves of all people and where the planet is protected. For us to achieve this ambitious vision we must engage a powerful constituency that is girls.

To mark this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, Akili Dada brought together organizations, friends and partners in the girl’s movement for a night of film, music and conversation on girls. We celebrated girls who are creating change within their communities and challenging the way things are done. We also reflected on the gains made in the girl’s movement.

The evening began with a powerful performance by the Flower Project ~ an all-girl band based in Nairobi that came together inspired by the plight of the African woman; her life, struggles and success. This was followed by the inaugural showcase of ‘When Women Lead’ ~ a documentary film by Akili Dada, highlighting the journeys of girls and young women from the Akili Dada family who have overcome challenging pasts and who today are flourishing as leaders in different sectors. The film sought to emphasize the impact that mentorship, skills building, education and provision of financial resources can have in positively changing the trajectory of girls and young women’s lives.

A key highlight for the evening was the girl’s panel that saw the audience equally challenged and inspired by 3 incredible girl leaders from Akili Dada, Akira Chix and Binti Pamoja. These changemakers shared anecdotal experiences of the challenges they themselves had met in their day to day lives. Leah Kibe shared her experience of being overlooked for being female and young while seeking to raise resources for a local library project that she initiated to address the challenge of illiteracy among primary school’s kids in her community. She highlighted the need for communities to believe in the ability of girls to create change and more importantly to give girls a space to articulate and actualize their dreams.

When asked ‘What can the world do for girls?’, the girls challenged the stakeholder’s movement and the world at large to create an environment that allows girls to have a positive outlook on who they are and teaches them to fully appreciate their worth. They encouraged parents, caregivers and guardians to be open and honest with girls, providing them with the right kind of information that would allow them to protect themselves from the pitfalls that often hold girls back.

Our keynote speaker ~ Janah Ncube of Crisis Action gave a moving speech on the need to ‘Inspire girls to be thought leaders, changemakers and transformative leaders in our society’. She emphasized the need to examine how we raise our girls and to be careful of the messages we send to them at an early age as this has an effect on the women they become and the contributions they make to society. She applauded the girls panel for articulating the issues that affect them and furthermore for taking on an active role in creating solutions and implementing solutions that are addressing these challenges.

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