Women all over the world are working to promote change in their communities. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked seven fearless female leaders how their girlhood inspired their work today. Here’s what they said.
I was fortunate in that I was brought in a family environment that encouraged learning. So many of the girls in our work have had no such opportunity. If there is one thing I have learned beyond all doubt is that women need to join together and realize that united they have a great deal of power.
— Riya Kumari of People First Educational Charitable Trust
Growing up, I saw girls everywhere around me facing restrictions in every aspect of their life. They were not able to play outside of their homes, or even go outside without a male family member. Today, I work to make sure that girls achieve their full potential and aspirations.
— Anuradha Chatterji, Director of Resource Management of CREA
I believe my mum and grandmother were role models to me, by being brave, independent, hard-working and successful. They cared about others, fought for justice and never judged anyone. They also contributed to the Swedish equality movement.
— Cecilia Öman, Founder and President of Action10
My father was the biggest influence on my life. He sent me to school. When I saw poor, uneducated girls, he explained injustice, poverty, ignorance and the importance of spirituality and helping others. This made me want to make a difference in girls’ lives and my father supported me in that.
— Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and CEO of Afghan Institute of Learning
I grew up in a society and a big compound where women are regarded as worthless. Domestic violence was normal in our compound. I decided there and then that I am going to be educated at all cost so that I can be empowered to fight the course of women. The dream is realized.
— Busayo Obisakin, President of Women Inspiration Development Center
My passion to support girls enroll in school, stay and complete their education was influenced by my background growing up as an African woman and my personal experience having had to overcome overwhelming threat of extreme poverty in order to complete my education.
— Keturah Shammah, Founder and Executive Director of Girls Education Mission International
I grew up in an educated family so I assumed all girls had access to education. Nineteen years after migrating to the United States, I returned to Afghanistan to see what happened to the people we left behind. Only then, I realized I was one of the lucky ones. I’m working to ensure other women and girls can be lucky.
— Hassina Sherjan, Founder and Director of Aid Afghanistan for Education
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Featured Photo: Save a Girl from Child Marriage by World Concern